Letters to the Editor

Letter: Innovation surrounding combustion engines

How does one know when progress for innovation is failing? Most would say when they don’t feel surprised or fascinated anymore. A factor that helps innovation to continue contributes to the interest that humans have in it. According to Green Car Reports, statistically, “71% of drivers surveyed said they were interested in getting an electric car.” An all-electric car innovation in the automotive industry as the next step for cars stands as a universal disputation. Electric vehicles exist to many as the healthier alternative to combustion engines as a means to save Earth. However, EV’s prove they stand just as superior as combustion engines vehicles.

The innovation surrounding combustion engine vehicles has gone on for over a century and during that time vehicles have placed more electronic components into vehicles to improve engines and overall experience. Yet, automakers are integrating physical parts such as pistons, and valves that have seen small innovations, but don’t compete with modern electronic components. Whereas the advancements for electric vehicles, still exhibit in their early stages bringing a whole range of new opportunities. For instance, software engineering has been integrated into vehicles as far ago as the 1950s. Since then, many other components have surfaced, from the button engine ignition to turbochargers in vehicles. However, in 2012 Tesla became the first to make another great leap and provide over-the-air (OTA) software updates to their first daily-drive vehicle, the Tesla Model S sedan, unleashing a new realm of capabilities for the electric automaker. Other auto industries such as General Motors and Ford have rolled out new cars that provide the same capabilities. Unfortunately, with these automakers still implementing combustion engines into their cars, they reached a limitation in OTA updates. As the U.S Department of Energy explains, “the (combustion) engine consists of a fixed cylinder and a moving piston” (“Internal Combustion Engine Basics”). Combustion engines function on the reliance on physical parts. Ultimately, physical parts that only depend on one another to operate the engine create a blockage in allowing for coded software to effectively and quickly change anything within a car.

Samuel Knox

Crystal Lake