Current trends in the automotive industry towards fuel efficient and low emission
vehicles, are dictated by more environmental friendly customers, more strict environmental
legislation, rising fuel costs and intensive competition. These factors are pressuring vehicle
manufacturers to speed up R&D and improve the efficiency and flexibility of their
manufacturing operations so that improved products can be introduced over shortened
timeframes. Recent advances have been focused on improving the design of internal
combustion engines, coupled with research into alternative fuels and related new forms of
vehicle propulsion. Natural impacts of these advances have been shorter engine lifetimes,
increased pace of engine innovations, and significant changes in propulsion type share: in
Europe the diesel engine share is increasing relative to that of petrol engines while in the
US and Japan hybrids are becoming popular. In the long-term fuel cell- and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles may largely make internal combustion engines obsolete. [Continues.]
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.
European Union, European Social Fund (Community Support Framework). Portugal, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia.