Last updated 11:04 13/09/2013
Volvo has boldly declared V8 engines will become dinosaurs as car makers increasingly turn their attention to more fuel efficient smaller-capacity engines, such as four-cylinders.
The announcement comes just months before Volvo will embark on a multi-million dollar investment to enter the V8 Supercars racing category in Australia.
Speaking at the launch of its new family of diesel and petrol four-cylinder engines - which will replace a range of four, six and eight-cylinder engines for the Swedish car maker - the brand's vice president of powertrain engineering made the controversial declaration that V8s were a dying breed.
"There's so much power they will turn V8 engines into dinosaurs," said Derek Crabbin a video presentation, referring to the new turbocharged Volvo four-cylinder engines.
Volvo Car Australia boss Matt Braid defended the apparent conflict between a four-cylinder-only engine strategy and the move to enter V8 racing by saying the ambitious race program was very separate to the brand's shift towards a new range of more fuel efficient engines for its road cars.
"The four-cylinder engine strategy is for production cars, the V8 engine architecture is the ticket to entry to V8 Supercars as the leading racing category in Australia," said Braid. "We're taking the car racing, we're not taking the engine racing.
"We very much want to draw the line: Production road car engine versus making a bespoke race engine out of a former production V8 engine to meet the category regulations."
When asked whether V8 Supercars racing should drop the V8 tag and allow different engine configurations Braid was guarded in his response but said: "in future, potentially yes".
"It's only natural when you're on public record announcing your new four-cylinder engine strategy ... you are going to have some questions asked [internally] about the [V8 Supercar] series.
"Once the questions were asked and once they were answered it was very clear they're not in conflict with each other."
While many brands have predicted that sales of V8s will drop as four-cylinder engines continue to deliver more power and become more readily accepted, none has gone as far to call it a dinosaur.
As well as the V8 being synonymous with the famous Mount Panorama race track at Bathurst - and touring car racing generally - the most legendary Australian-made cars have been powered by V8 engines. They include the Ford Falcon GTHO and Holden Monaro, as well as more recent iterations of the Falcon and Commodore.
For Holden, more than a quarter of Commodores sold are powered by a V8.
Just this week Porsche revealed its high-tech 918 Spyder supercar, which teams a V8 engine with an electric drivetrain for one of the fastest production cars ever created.
Other brands - including Mazda - have previously resisted carrots to enter the V8 Supercars championship partially on the grounds it didn't fit with the brand's broader marketing message and its push to smaller capacity engines.
Despite the dinosaur prediction, Volvo qualified its comments by saying V8 engines will still play a niche role in high performance cars moving forward.
The engineer responsible for the new four-cylinder Volvo engines, Jorgen Brynne, said there will "always be a niche" for some V8 engines.
"There will always be a niche for big engines for some special vehicles but the volume is low today and will probably be even lower in the future," said Brynne. "There will always be some Ferraris, maybe some very expensive BMWs and [Mercedes-Benz] AMG versions and so-on.
"With our [higher performance] T6 [four-cylinder] we think we are close to V8 performance. And when we make some electrification we will absolutely be in the V8 area and with fuel consumption that's not in the V8 area."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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