Almost a third of new vehicles on dealer lots will be turbocharged by 2018 according to a major supplier of automotive turbochargers.
Honeywell Turbo Technologies said today that 17 percent of vehicles sold in North America are currently turbocharged, but that it expects a roughly 67 percent spike to 31 percent by 2018. Automobile manufacturers hunting for ways to make their cars more efficient are increasingly turning to the forced induction technology as a means to make their engines more efficient without sacrificing power.
A much smaller engine can power a vehicle comparably to a much larger naturally aspirated unit. In the new M3 and M4, BMW is shifting its cars from a naturally aspirated V8 to a turbocharged six-cylinder. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is abandoning its old inline five-cylinder mill in favor of a turbo four. In fact, the company plans to move entirely into turbocharged engines in the next three to four years. Last year, Ford said it sold 42 percent of its F-150 half-ton pickup trucks with a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that it touts for having V8-killing torque.
“Downsized turbocharged engines are a no-compromise solution for consumers demanding great fuel economy and performance with the added benefit of reducing harmful emissions,” said Honeywell Transportation Systems President and CEO Terrence Hahn.
Are they really? The EPA estimated that by 2025, 90 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. will be turbocharged. Current EPA fuel economy tests are designed to evaluate consumption for naturally aspirated engines, which accounted for the vast majority of powertrains until the last few years.
SEE ALSO: Real World MPG Fuel Economy Database
The fact that a turbocharged engine can return better fuel economy isn’t a guarantee that it will. A smaller engine will reduce vehicle weight, and low in the rpm range it isn’t usually any thirstier than a naturally aspirated engine. Both of those factors contribute to better fuel economy, but those numbers tend to change drastically once the engine speeds up enough to activate the turbocharger. Given the projected spike in market penetration for forced induction, isn’t it time to introduce a new testing standard?
Testing procedures were last revised in 2008 to account for higher-speed traffic – the previous test was introduced in the 1970’s – but small turbocharged engines still exhibit greater discrepancies between advertised and real-world fuel economy figures.