Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ricardo/JLR in I4 engine pact

Will Ricardo provide valuable engineering support to help JaguarLandRover (JLR) integrate its new Hotfire four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines into the car maker’s products when then engines appear in 2014/2015?

 A clue to the answer perhaps can be found in the latest issue of Ricardo’s house magazine RQ. The concluding sentence in an article describing Ricardo’s role in the integration of Land Rover’s I4 gasoline engine into the latest XF and XJ products states: ‘For Ricardo it is another box ticked and an already successful relationship is moving from strength to further strength’.

Without doubt, the joint work by engineers from JLR and Ricardo to integrate the four-cylinder gasoline engines into cars initially engineered for vee-engines is a substantial task if the same essential vehicle attributes are to be retained. That joint work no doubt will be of direct benefit in the future when JLR comes to integrate the new Hotfire I4 gasoline and diesel engines into a range of vehicles. Hotfire will be manufactured at site i54 near the M54, Wolverhampton.

Ricardo is an important resource, the only substantive automotive engineering consultancy with bases in the UK. Its close work with JLR puts it in an ideal position to continue its relationship further, bearing in mind the vehicle maker’s extensive forthcoming new model programme which will place a huge burden on its own engineering staff.

So great is the burden that JLR will certainly need some assistance if it is to meet all its challenging targets involving not only new vehicles but new engines. To support its new engine work, JLR is investing heavily in new engine test equipment – and Ricardo too is investing millions.

As part of their joint efforts of undertaking the work of integrating the new I4 Ti 240 four-cylinder Jaguar gasoline engine in the XF and XJ (the engine replaces the AJ-V6) for 2013 MY, Ricardo engineers were briefed on how JLR's Gateway process works. For it is through this Gateway that the separate elements of JLR all understand what they will receive from the other groups of purchase and finance, internal programme management and manufacturing.

By understanding what makes JLR ‘tick’ to bring its products out on time, Ricardo is in an ideal position to undertake future work for the company having effectively learnt the ‘nuts and bolts’ through the I4 Ti 240 programme for XF and XJ.

The Ti 240 engine is important as JLR downsizes powertrains in its vehicles. (Note how Ford has just announced a new all-aluminium 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine from Craiova, Romania for its Mondeo cars.) China, for example, has a capacity-based taxation system which placed Jaguar at a disadvantage. Introducing its new 2-litre I4 Ti 240 engine allows Jaguar to move down two or three levels of taxation, making it much more competitive in the marketplace. Jaguar therefore argues the I4 Ti 240 engine from the Range Rover Evoque is mainly for the Chinese market. The engine gives 237bhp and 340Nm torque.

This is the first time a four-cylinder gasoline engine has been fitted to either the XF or the XJ and as the I4 Ti 240 has been used previously only in transverse applications, it had to be rotated to fit Jaguar’s north-south configuration. XJ has been equipped with V6 and V8 engines while the XF has been fitted with the 2.2-litre diesel. The base of the nsew engine, however, remains essentially unchanged from the Land Rover applications. The customised engines are sourced from Ford's Valencia plant. Jaguar's new F Type, being tested by motoring journalists in Pamplona, carries the V8 and the V6, the latter with two power ratings. 

NVH is a particular challenge because cars built for high performance tend to have a stiff front structure and as such there can be sensitivity to vibration at idle. This explains why integrating an I4 into cars designed for a vee configuration can be a huge challenge.

Even though the I4 Ti 240 is extremely refined, it has completely different characteristics to vee-configuration engines and care had to be taken to ensure Jaguar’s scrupulous levels of refinement were not compromised.

                                NVH important

Ricardo's NVH team was charged with delivering the requested level of refinement, not just on a measured technical level, but subjectively to deliver the defining character of the brand – what Jaguar engineers call ‘Jaguarness’.

In particular, the intake and exhaust noise was a particularly important area and was developed by the NVH team at Ricardo to Jaguar specifications.

Delivering NVH attributes required switching to inclined engine mounts and changing the damping characteristics between the idle and dynamic modes. The particular focus here was to ensure the idle was sufficiently refined for a premium product.

The use of a smaller engine could not be allowed to compromise the premium quality of the product and the resulting NVH would have to match that of the vee-engine gasoline cars in both front and rear seats. Cabin boom and vibrations are not acceptable in Jaguar cars.

These and other areas of work could be especially important in any future work that Ricardo might undertake with the Hotfire engine family.

With the Ti 240 project, Ricardo was assigned a wide range of responsibilities, from component design, development and validation, vehicle package management, CAE simulation, to validating robustness and attribute performance, management of thermal validation testing and calibration test trips, and management of the prototype test fleet.

Ricardo was also granted access to Jaguar’s engineering computer network to allow design releases to be made directly into the system.

Ricardo started its work on the project three years ago in July 2010, with engineering sign-off for XJ scheduled 19 months later in February 2012 and SOP (start of production) a few months after in July. Production of the new XF would follow in September.

As part of its work, Ricardo had to deal with everything required to integrate a powertrain into a new vehicle, including intake and exhaust, cooling and fuel systems. Engine calibration was included in the remit, with its impacts on vehicles emissions, as was drivability and the on-board diagnostics.

The base engine remains unchanged from the Land Rover applications, but this was the first use in a north-south configuration and that oimpacted on several of the ancillaries and the inlet and exhaust systems.


For example, although the core engine was narrower, the turbocharger  mounted on the exhaust manifold made the overall engine wide. The exhaust packaging  formed a key element of the project, as did the charge air cooler which is not existing on the present gasoline engine cars.

Although XF has been fitted with a 2.2-litre diesel engine, a diesel turbocharger runs cooler than a gasoline engine. As the package space around the exhaust system is confined and as the steering column runs alongside, careful thermal management was required of the higher temperature gasoline turbocharger. The design of the thermal heat shield was therefore critical.

Another aspect involved the transmission. The engine is connected physically to the ZF eight-speed electronic automatic transmission through an adaptor plate engineered by Jaguar; the specification of the torque convertor was changed to match the characteristics of the I4 engine.

The project did not end with engineering development work. Ricardo went on to provide support for prototype and production builds, with a separate team of launch engineers to help with the prototype pilot line at the JLR Engineering Centre and the production line at Castle Bromwich.

With the Ti 240 job, Ricardo has effectively ticked three boxes: it has set a benchmark; it created a useful precedent and finally it has established the necessary expertise to handle this type of work in the future.

And Ricardo can rightly claim it has contributed to the success of JaguarLandRover as it transforms itself into one of the world’s fastest expanding manufacturers of luxury cars by imparting ‘crucial’ engineering support for an important project that provides an ‘entry ticket’ to an entirely new sector of the passenger car market.