Is your truck smarter than you?

Fuels |  2 min. read

If your new truck is a Chevy, the answer might be yes.  At least speaking on behalf of its engine.

That’d be the eight-cylinder engine that you can find in the 2019 Chevy Silverado.

Because this engine can give you 355 horsepower firing on all eight cylinders, and that same engine can also run on just one cylinder.

That’s right, it can run on one cylinder.  Or two.  Or six.  In fact, there are 17 different possible configurations.

Now here’s the “smarter” part:  the engine’s brain crunches the numbers to figure out which of those 17 set-ups is right for the driving you are doing in a given moment, and it can figure that out 80 times a second.

And that’s smart with a purpose.  If your engine can match the power it’s producing, to just the power you need – that means you are using just the fuel you need.  That saves you money, and saves us all a valuable resource.

So, you’re driving uphill, pulling a trailer?  Eight cylinders.  Cruising at a steady speed on a flat stretch of highway – maybe six cylinders does the trick.  Pulling into your driveway at home?  One cylinder might do fine for that.  Chevy figures that more than half the time, your engine will be running on fewer than all eight cylinders.

But just ask your engine – it’ll know.  Ok, don’t really.  It isn’t like Alexa or Siri, and anyhow, if it’s figuring out what to do 80 times a second, your engine probably doesn’t really have time to chat.

Chevy calls this Dynamic Fuel Management, and this is how their engineers describe it:

“DFM is powered by a sophisticated controller that continuously monitors every movement of the accelerator pedal and runs a complex sequence of calculations to determine how many cylinders are required to meet the driver’s requested torque … An electromechanical system deactivates and reactivates all 16 of the engine’s hydraulic valve lifters, controlling valve actuation.”

So maybe it is true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  But an old engine?  A few centuries on, the internal combustion engine keeps getting more mileage, and more power out of every gallon of gasoline you put into it.  We call that smart.

By the way, if you want to see what a really smart engine looks like, it looks like this (well, actually it IS this):

And if you want to read more about it, Chevrolet’s got that (or you can check your favorite automotive magazine/website).