The History of Fuel Injection

1Today people are spoiled by the fact that really no matter what the temperature of the day is you can hop into your car an expect that the engine will turn right over. This was not the case just a few short decades ago and anyone who owns a 70s model car knows, that cold days call for hard starts. So what is the difference between today’s cars and those of yester year; fuel injection.

Before the total implementation of the fuel injection system in automobiles, the engines primarily relied upon the good old carburetor to get its injection of gasoline into the intake manifolds where it gets mixed with air and then enters the cylinders en route to being burned. Though effective, carburetors saw their doom when the microprocessor made way for the fuel injector to be implemented in cars across the board and make for a much better fuel economy and engine performance.

Though fuel injection has only been used comprehensively for a few decades now, the technology is anything but new. In fact the fist remnants of the technology can be traced all the way back to 1890 when an Englishman named Frederick Lanchester conducted some fuel injection experiments and then again in 1896 when E.J. Pennington included fuel injection in his motorcycle patent.

In automobiles, fuel injection has been used in diesel engines since the 1920s. This is because diesel fuel is different from gasoline and did not encounter much of the problems that the gasoline engines did in the early going. The early years also saw a good number of war planes feature the technology during World War II.

Over the years the automotive industry toyed with fuel injection but it was too expensive and unreliable to put into mass production. Then in 1955 the Mercedes-Benz 300SL became the first commercial application of fuel injection using a Bosch system. This eventually made its way to the other name plates and Chevy began to utilize the system in 1957 with some of its models, most notably the Corvette. Chevy Corvettes that featured the new fuel injection system became one of the first production cars to exceed horsepower per cubic inch of engine displacement.

The first successful EFI (Electronic Fuel injection) system was seen in 1967 when Bosch released its D-Jetronic system and implemented it on the Volkswagen 1600TL. Soon after that the system was making its way into the manufacturers all over such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, Jaguar, Citroen, and Volvo.

In 1977 Cadillac offered a very similar copy of the Bosh EFI D-Jetronic which left the engineers at Bosch to come up with something new. There newly developed sensor that was capable of measuring air flow came out in 1982 and gave the world the first fully digital EFI system and has since become the standard that you see in today’s cars. From there it was history.

Perhaps it was more perfect timing. Along with the invention of the microprocessor, the Government was also coming down hard on the automobile industry in the early 80s and imposing fuel efficiency and emissions regulations. When you put it all together it spelled death for the carburetor and made the fuel injection system the only viable choice and it is a choice that is still evident to this very day.

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