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Why would automakers like Honda and Toyota, known for their fuel efficient vehicles, not have already made the switch to smaller-displacement turbocharged engines? The answer, surprisingly, is fuel economy.
Turbochargers are increasingly common as automakers seek to maximize performance while striving for efficiency.
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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Turbocharging is moving away from the performance sphere and into the mainstream as companies seek to get more power and fuel economy from smaller displacement engines.
Honeywell, a leading automotive equipment supplier and turbocharger company, estimates that by 2015, 35 million new vehicles with turbochargers will be sold annually, up from 17 million right now. While Honeywell has an obvious interest in promoting the use of this technology, their numbers are backed by independent research firms like J.D. Power, and the company is hedging its bets on the internal combustion engine.
“Despite the buzz around hybrid and electric vehicles, it is clear that automakers will be looking primarily at turbocharged engines to help ‘green’ their fleets and meet the regulatory targets like CAFE in the U.S.,” Alex Ismail, president and CEO of Honeywell Transportation System, told Wired magazine.
While alternative fuel vehicles have their merits, you’ll never find us complaining about more turbocharged gasoline engines.
[Source: Wired Magazine]
Hyundai‘s new Accent was the star of the companies exhibit at this year’s Beijing Auto Show, but the debut of two new engines and a new automatic transmission will have broader implications for the rest of the company’s lineup.
In addition to the 2.4L GDI four-cylinder in the Sonata (pictured above), two new gasoline direct-injection engines were unveiled at Beijing, a 1.6L four cylinder putting out 138 horsepower, a 28 horsepower bump over Hyundai’s current 1.6L four banger. The 1.6 GDI should appear in the Accent, Elantra, certain Kia models and the upcoming Veloster compact sports car. Even more enticing was the mention in a product video that the 1.6 could potentially be turbocharged and paired up with a dual-clutch gearbox, though no timeline was given for either technology.
Hyundai’s long awaited GDI version of the Lambda V6 was also previewed, although the engine was only rated at 296 horsepower, which is a few ponies less than the current Lambda makes in Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe. One can assume that there will be different variations, and that the engine will see a bump in power when it comes Stateside. Hyundai also joins Lexus in the elite 8-speed automatic club, and it’s a sure bet that the Genesis Sedan and Coupe will get the new 8-speed auto option.
With Hyundai positioning itself as a premium brand, the company has an obligation to innovate on its own, and not just play catch-up – even if they’re hot on the heels of world leaders like Lexus.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]
Ferrari is hard at work trying to refine the turbocharging process so that future products will use the high-horsepower, low emissions (and low weight) technology. According to a report in the U.K.’s AutoCar, Ferrari engine developer Jean-Jacques His says the development is well under weigh, but the biggest issue facing the project is turbo lag.
Conventionally, turbos take time to spool up to full power, but that doesn’t suit the Ferrari way of doing things. Instead, Ferrari has traditionally opted for naturally aspirated (non turbocharged or supercharged) engines that deliver better throttle response and a more linear deliver of power. His told AutoCar that a delay of any sort in the power delivery was simply unacceptable.
A few years ago Porsche introduced variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbos that helped reduce turbo lag significantly, but apparently even that impressive technology is not enough for Ferrari. The company has also discounted using Fiat’s Multiair setup, as it doesn’t work as efficiently at higher rpm and with larger engines.
Ferrari has used turbos sparingly across its model range over the years, including most recently in the F40 supercar (pictured above), which was last made in 1992.
Another bit of info gleaned from the interview is that Ferrari’s new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which debuted in the California, is suitable for V12 engines, meaning that were likely to see this new technology arrive in the successor to the 612 Scaglietti and other future V12 models.
Likely to Debut at LA Auto Show
Ferrari has confirmed that a hybrid model is in the works and that a concept car will debut as early as the LA Auto Show this December. The news comes directly from Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa just weeks after a patent application for a hybrid system by Ferrari was uncovered.
At almost the same time that patent application was discovered, a second one relating to a turbocharged powerplant was also found. Felisa also confirmed that turbochargers are a potential avenue that the Italian exotic car maker is looking into. He did, however, say that a turbocharged Ferrari engine would still provide the high-revving feel that is so much a part of a Ferrari engine.
These two green alternatives (as well as one other) are being looked at by Ferrari in order to meet stringent European emissions regulations set to take effect in 2014. The final alternative is a bio-fuel or flex-fuel engine – like the one the company debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (pictured above).
Whatever route Ferrari takes, it is expected that the new model or models will be in addition to the current lineup, in order to reduce emissions across the fleet while retaining the Ferrari performance focus.
[Source: Car & Driver]