Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hyundai extends CGI leadership in Asia

Hyundai Motor Company, the world’s fifth largest auto manufacturer, has begun series production of compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder heads for the company’s 12.7-litre heavy duty commercial vehicle engine.
Following the launch of Hyundai’s first CGI engine programme in 2006 with the 3-litre V6 S-engine used in Hyundai and Kia luxury SUV applications in the domestic Korean market, the 12.7 litre L-engine cylinder head becomes Hyundai’s sixth CGI product in series production.

This latest application has extended Hyundai’s CGI leadership position in Asia, making it the second largest user of CGI components world-wide.

In addition to the 3-litre S-engine cylinder block and the 12.7 litre L-engine cylinder head, Hyundai has used CGI for the 3.9-litre F-engine and 5.9-litre G-engine commercial vehicle cylinder blocks since 2007, as well as for high performance cylinder heads of the 5.9-litre G-engine and all cylinder heads of the 10-litre H-engine since 2011.

Such is the extent and depth of Hyundai’s conviction that all of the company’s CGI components are cast at the Hyundai Jeonju foundry and the Daedong foundry in Korea, using SinterCast process control technology.

Perhaps among the world’s automakers Hyundai has thrown its CGI net far wider among its engine products than any other company, with the possible exception of Ford Motor Company, which extends CGI use from its latest Nano 2.7-litre gasoline EcoBoost engine built in the Lima, Ohio, engine plant where Ford has invested $500 million, through the Dagenham-made 3-litre V6 diesel and the Chihuahua-built 6.7-litre EcoBoost diesel to the heavy commercial vehicle in-line six-cylinder diesele engines made in association with Koc in Turkey. Sadly, no official figures are publicly available to reveal how much CGI each OEM processes (machines) in tonnes annually - if the figures are available they are not open to scrutiny, but Ford must be high up in the world league table, along with VW, MAN, Daf and Mercedes-Benz, and to a lesser extent Navistar, Scania, Volvo and Cummins.

Even so, the latest Hyundai application has several implications, the most of important of these is the fact that the CGI cylinder heads are produced using the existing grey iron foundry tooling and are machined on the same lines as the grey iron heads.

“The direct substitution of conventional grey cast iron with CGI provides an ongoing growth opportunity, as engines are upgraded to mainta in market competitiveness and to satisfy future emissions legislation,” said Dr. Steve Dawson, president and chief executive officer of SinterCast.

“Hyundai was the first OEM in Asia to adopt CGI and has since become a world leader for CGI performance upgrades. The 5.9-, 10- and 12.7-litre CGI cylinder heads have all been introduced as upgrades of existing grey cast iron heads, to ensure durability as the power and torque were increased,” added Dawson.

COMMENT: The observations derived from this development by Hyundai have to be threefold: When an OEM uses CGI it tends to use more of it as the company’s engineers enjoy a positive experience as well as obtain positive engine results. So far, no OEM that has adopted CGI has raised any "grumbles" about the technology; in fact, each new CGI engine serves only to generate further CGI commitments and activities and, at this point in timer, CGI is seen as having become a mature material providing benefits and value.

Secondly, the latest project suggests that engine upgrade is possible without engine redesign. Thus: one engine design yields one set of engine tooling and no further investment in a machining line. This last point may be bad news for machine tool vendors but it is an important plus point in the OEM’s purchasing department. Therefore a shift to CGI is very cost efficient.

Finally, on the world stage, South Korea is a relative minnow, albeit with a world-class vehicle OEM using world-class engineering materials. Next door, China too is anxious to be a world player, but is looking moribund. Hyundai’s diesel engine strategy is surely a wake-up call for China’s lagging commercial vehicle industry.

It remains to be seen if 2015 is the point at which China's heavy truck industry hears the wake-up call – and responds accordingly. JM                              

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