Believe me, I’m no engineer. But this very powerful 0.7 liter engine that reportedly produces 134 horsepower per liter has my full attention. I recall the days of the 6.6 liter Trans Am and 5.7 liter Mustang. If you mentioned an engine less than one liter in size, I would have laughed and only believed you were talking about a lawn mower. The five horsepower Briggs and Stratton motor on my go kart was probably larger than 0.7 liters.

Yet, it looks like the German company FEV, based in Aachen, Germany, is the one that could be laughing now. We heard about FEV yesterday with their plug-in hybrid Fiat 500 conversion. Not only are they hard at work on plug-in powertrains, they have also developed what they’re calling an extremely downsized engine (EDE) that uses three cylinders, is turbocharged and could be an excellent replacement for the current crop of small, low displacement engines on the market.

The idea is the EDE could replace the standard 1.5 liter four cylinder engine. Although a 1.5 liter engine is already pretty small, one reason for trying for such a replacement is that it weighs less, and therefore would reduce fuel consumption. Another is simply that the engine itself reportedly has a 12% greater fuel efficiency.

The engine uses direction injection and generates over 30% more torque than a 1.5 liter naturally aspirated motor. It is also compatible with hybrid car configurations. Having to construct three cylinders, instead of four, results in some cost savings.

Would it be possible to use such a tiny engine for DIY car building?  Personally I can see such an engine used in a trike, which for safety purposes, could be preferable to a motorcycyle. Could a motor trike, or reverse motor trike with a 0.7 liter 100hp engine get over 70mpg? I wonder also if there could be a diesel version for using vegetable oil?

As noted in the source article, American consumers are more likely to have a taste for large V-8 and  V-6 engines, and scoff at a very small engine as being anemic, but pound-for-pound this engine could be a force. Especially considering the recent Gulf oil spill, maybe the appetite for only huge engines in America could be on the wane.

Source: Ward’s Auto