Automotive Two-Stroke-Cycle Engine Development in the 1980-1990’s 2016-01-0177
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the two-stroke-cycle engine was an extremely popular and highly publicized automotive powertrain technology globally. Active development programs existed at many OEMs during that period, including GM, where the author was involved, and production seemed eminent. Autoweek stated on the cover of its March 12, 1990 issue, “Revolution for the millennium or Wankel of the ‘90s?”
This paper covers the new technologies that led to the generation of so much excitement in the industry and press, the advantages and disadvantages of the engine concept, R&D tools developed at that time that are still in use today, and various engine concepts pursued in the industry. The story is not only interesting from engineering and technology perspectives but illustrates how innovations in certain subsystems become enablers to revive a system technology by eliminating issues that prevented it from making it to production in the past. Perhaps innovations since the end of the “two-stroke revolution” might revive it for another rebirth?