Rising fuel prices and the prospects of an economic slowdown had U.S. consumers second-guessing β07 vehicle purchases, boosting the installation rates of small, low-displacement engines.
Model-year β07 marked the third annual increase in the use of 4- and 5-cyl. engines, according to Wardβs annual survey of North American engine installations. They were featured in 31.7% of the 13,452,897 β07 vehicles built in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, up from 27.7% of the 13,641,012 vehicles turned out the prior model year.
It also was well above the 10-year average of 27.0% and narrowly eclipsed the period peak of 31.6% garnered in model year β98.
Not surprisingly, the increase was greater in cars, where 4- and 5-cyl. engines accounted for 58.2% of β07-model output totaling 5,815,347, up from the prior peak of 53.5% for the 5,866,837 cars assembled in the β05 model year. The increase in 5-cyl. engine installations, to 5.6% from β06-modelβs 2.5%, is attributed to a move byde Mexico S.A. de C.V., which is equipping its Beetle and Rabbit models with a 2.5L I-5. The I-5 replaces the last of VWβs naturally aspirated 2.0L I-4 engines.
The 5-cyl. powerplant, in its second year of use, accounted for 96.0% of β07 VW output compared with 43.2% in β06.
Meanwhile, a new turbocharged 2.0L I-4 accounted for the remaining 4.0%.
The 1.9L 4-cyl. turbodiesel that powered 17.8% of β06 VW production was withdrawn from the market for β07 as the auto maker prepared a new line of oil-burners able to meet more demanding diesel-emissions regulation.
In addition,LLCβs all-new Dodge Caliber launched in early 2006 as an β07 model and its extended production run helped raise the bar for 4-cyl. car output.
On the truck side, 4- and 5-cyl. engines powered 11.4% of the β07 output of 7,637,550 vehicles, compared with 10.2% of the 7,774,175 β06 models.
The use of 4-cyl. engines jumped 1.9 percentage points thanks to increased output of small cross/utility vehicles, while a dip in production ofCorp.βs Chevrolet Canyon and GMC Colorado pickups, where the 3.7L I-5 is optional, held that powerplant to a 1.5% share of β07 production, down from 2.2% in β06.
Light-truck V-8 usage also increased in β07 to 42.9%, from 41.6% in β06, as GM andMotor Sales U.S.A. Inc., launched large pickups with new and more-efficient 8-cyl. engines.
But the car installation rates for V-8s declined to 7.2% from a 10-year peak of 10.2% in β06, reprising rates of 7.4% and 7.5% for β05 and β04, respectively.
Six-cylinder engines took a drubbing all the way around in β07 due to declining minivan and small SUV output, along with a drop in popularity of V-6-powered small pickups. Only 40.7% of β07 North American-built light vehicles were powered by 6-cyl. engines, down from 43.8% the prior year, including a decline to 45.3% from 47.6% in light trucks, and 34.6% from 38.8% in cars.
Engines under 3.0L displacement β encompassing most 4- and 5-cyl. units along with some V-6s β edged up to 27.7% for the β07 production run from 26.0% the prior year, but fell below the 29.5% 10-year average, largely because those engines powered a larger share of vehicles in the mid-1990s.
Those in the 3.0L-3.9L range β mostly V-6s β fell to 33.8% in β07 from 35.8% in β06, but still bettered the 10-year average of 31.0%.
Engines with 4.0L to 4.9L displacement, a mix of V-6 and small V-8 engines, edged up slightly to 18.3% in β07 from 17.9% in β06, while those of 5.0L or more β mainly gasoline and diesel V-8s, but including some gasoline V-10s as well β held virtually steady at 20.2% in β07 compared with 20.3% the prior year.
At the same time, E-85 capable engines went into 824,624, or 6.1% of β07-model domestic light vehicles, down from 7.0% posted in β06.
Meanwhile, Wardβs found hybrid powertrains accounted for 1.1% of β07 domestic light-vehicle output; turbodiesels, 2.9%; turbocharged-gasoline engines, 0.7%; and supercharged gasoline engines, 0.2%.
The low rate for hybrids stems from the fact most of the higher-volume hybrid-car models are imported, rather than built in North America.