There’s little good news coming out of the American auto industry these days, but here and there we’re seeing glimmers of hope from major car manufacturers. GM has announced that it is developing a more efficient combustion engine that is designed to improve the performance of its vehicles by almost 15%. Dubbed the HCCI, the next generation engines work by compressing fuel rather than igniting it with a spark plug, resulting in both reduced gas consumption and increased mileage.
GM’s new engine employs a technology called homogeneous charge compression ignition. Unlike standard engines, which runs thanks to the spark generated by a battery, the engine compresses a mixture of fuel and air to ignite it. The HCCI engine is particularly useful for hybrid vehicles, as it is most efficient while the vehicle is being driven at high speeds for long periods of time.
GM believes that these engines are going to be necessary for the next generation of hybrids, and will help to ease the transition towards fully electric vehicles. The auto manufacturer already has a number of prototype vehicles running on this engine, and they are currently fine-tuning it for widespread release. General Motors is not the only vehicle manufacturer working on an HCCI engine – Mercedes Benz, Ford, Volkswagen and Honda are working on similar technologies.