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Traditionally, the most effective way of combining performance and fuel economy is via turbocharging; the idea being that using exhaust gas to produce boost and hence greater air volumes, results in the driver having performance on demand.
Turbos first gained a foothold in the North American market back in the late 1970s as some automakers, notably Buick and Ford, sought to balance performance with ever tightening fuel economy standards.
Now, more than a generation later, the same thing is happening again. This hasn’t been good news for supercharger manufacturers. Compared to turbos, engine driven superchargers are often seen as the realm of high horsepower, gas guzzling V8 muscle cars and street trucks, requiring considerable effort to keep them spinning, which increases parasitic loss and lowers fuel economy.
However Eaton Corp, one of the largest manufacturers of OE superchargers, is hoping to reverse the trend toward turbos, by introducing a new line of superchargers, dubbed the Twin Vortices Series, aimed at small displacement applications (engines as small as 1.2-liters in fact).
Eaton is also going to great lengths in highlighting some of the benefits of superchargers, notably greater reliability, reduced maintenance and much better torque production at low and mid-range rpm, where street engines spend most of their time.
Some of the more ‘thrifty’ vehicles which already sport Eaton blowers include the pint-size Nissan Micra and Chery A3, while at the other end of the spectrum, Porsche uses an Eaton supercharger for it’s Cayenne Hybrid SUV.
Will Eaton be able to shift public perception when it comes to superchargers, as well as curtail the dominance of OE turbo makers such as Honeywell and Mitsubishi? Only time will tell.
[Source: The Car Tech Blog]
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