Small, fuel efficient vehicle engines in the 1.0-liter-to-1.9-liter displacement range already make up the lion's share of the global vehicle fleet, and that number is going to get larger. A WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass global powertrain forecast says the small engines will climb from 49 percent this year to over half next year, and then 52 percent by 2020. While the percentage change isn't much, the volume is huge: 15 million more vehicles.
Volkswagen has its XL1, the aero coupe that promises 235 miles per gallon through the use of a two-cylinder TDI diesel, an electric motor with a lithium-ion battery pack, and a seven-speed DCT. Rumored to hit showrooms next year, it will be sold in limited markets and in limited numbers. Over the corporate fence, Autocar reports that Audi is also working on a 1.0-liter car, but theirs looks to have a very different brief.
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Ford will begin rolling out its 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine this year in overseas models like the UK-spec Ford Focus and C-Max. Replacing the naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder, the little Ecoboost lump translates its minimal displacement into versions with 99 horses and 118 horses, and up to 125 pound-feet of torque. A report in Autocar suggests Ford can do even better, speculating that The Blue Oval is currently testing a unit outputting 177 hp.