Let’s face it: if you are a product manager for the traditional car engine, called an internal combustion engine, things are looking rather tough for you right now. The world is changing and you’ve suddenly got a lot of completion. The arrival of popular electric vehicles and a bunch of new government regulations about pollution mean that internal combustion engines are now at risk and their product development definition is going to have to be changed. The good news for product managers is that the auto makers and oil companies are coming together to find ways to save this type of engine. The secret appears to be a new high-tech engine oil.
Challenges Facing Today’s Engines
The good news for internal combustion engine product managers is that they are not in this fight to save their engine by themselves. Big oil companies such as Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and big car companies such as Ford and Fiat are all working to find ways to extend the life of the internal combustion engine. These firms are working to create a new super slick engine lubrication that they are betting will allow them to make existing combustion engines even more efficient. If they can pull it off, then internal combustion engine product managers will have something to add to their product manager resume.
This is becoming more and more important as stricter environmental rules are being implemented. At the same time new types of technology such as cars that emit zero emissions by using electricity start to become even more popular. Combustion engine product managers are searching for ways to get even more efficiency out of their product. The belief is that if they can find a way to accomplish this, then the internal combustion engine will have a long life ahead of it.
It is becoming harder and harder to sell internal combustion engines. Countries such as France, the U.K., India, and China have all started to indicate that they plan on eventually banning the sale of cars and trucks that use internal combustion engines in the next few decades. However, even sooner than that there will be tough new environmental regulations that will be put into place. The EU has stated that they want to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from cars and vans by 30% by 2030. China has stated that they want 25% of the cars that are on their streets to be either electric or hybrid by 2025.
What The Future Holds
One of the things that product managers realize is that the car makers are very heavily invested in internal combustion engines. Although car companies have promised to launch more electric vehicles in the upcoming decades, they will remain dependent on internal combustion engines for a long time. The big oil companies are also motivated to find ways to keep internal combustion engines in production because they will contribute a great deal to their bottom line for a long time to come. It’s been noted that making an internal combustion engine even just a little bit more efficient can have a very large impact.
Big oil companies have been working with internal combustion engine product managers for quite some time. Their goal has been to develop better engine oils. Lately product managers have been pushing for ultrathin oils that will reduce friction in the engine and will allow for the creation of more sophisticated engines. The new oils will be thinner than the oils that came before them. They will operate at higher pressures and temperatures and will have less of a tendency to evaporate.
As the new oils are developed, they will start to be recommended for use in newer engines. When the oils become available, it is expected that they will be labeled “OW-16” unlike the current “5W-30” that is currently used in internal combustion engines. Once the new oils become available, auto makers will be able to build smaller powerful turbocharged engines that should result in efficiency gains of up to 15% over current engines. It may also be possible to boost the efficiency of internal combustion engines by another 25% which could temp auto makers to focus on internal combustion engines instead of electrical vehicles.
What All Of This Means For You
When you think about it, the era of payphones and typewriters has come and gone. Right now internal combustion engine product managers are scrambling to review their product manager job description in order to find ways to make sure that the same thing does not happen to their products. With the arrival of new all electric cars and a toughing of pollution regulations, the existence of the internal combustion engine has never been under so much pressure.
Internal combustion engine product managers think that they may have found a way to extend the life of their product: new high-tech engine oils. The good news is that the product managers are not in this by themselves. Big oil companies and large car manufactures are both working to find ways to extend the life of internal combustion engines. A number of countries have tightened their carbon dioxide emission rules and have put programs in place to get more electric vehicles onto the streets. Internal combustion engines will be around for quite some time. Auto makers have a big investment in them and oil companies make a great deal of money from them. When the new oils become available, they should be able to make internal combustion engines 15% more efficient than they are today.
As product managers we all hope that the product that we are responsible for is going to have a long and happy life. However, internal combustion engine product managers realize that their product is under attack and if they don’t take action then there is a good chance that it will be going away. It appears as though they are doing the right thing by joining forces with oil companies and auto manufacturers to create new oils that will extend the life of their product. Now they need to make sure that they deliver their new oils and let their customers know how best to use them.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that internal combustion engine product managers should start to compare their cars to all electric cars?
Click here to get automatic updates when
The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Shaving is something that men without beards or mustaches do just about every day. In all honesty, I don’t think that we spend a lot of time thinking about shaving – it’ just something that we do. Over at Gillette, since they make razors, they spend a lot of time thinking about how men shave and they have reached a startling conclusion: their products cost too much!