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Turbo’s golden age?

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Honeywell’s recently released Transportation Systems Forecast for 2017 sees automakers continuing to adopt turbocharging technology to the tune of 48% of annual global sales by 2021, up 9% from last year’s estimate.

The increase, combining both passenger and commercial vehicles, would add more than 232-million turbocharged vehicles globally between 2017 and 2021 – a rise of 35% compared with today’s total.

“As emission regulations continue to tighten, mature automotive markets like the United States and high-growth regions like China and India are turning to turbochargers to help provide cleaner transportation,” says Olivier Rabiller, president and CEO of the Honeywell division.

“With the ability to improve emissions and fuel economy by 20% to 40% in gas and diesel engines, turbocharging technology is a smart choice for helping automakers meet tougher global emissions standards without sacrificing performance.”

This year’s forecast recognises an industry trend for slightly bigger engine sizes in Europe and China as automakers adapt powertrain strategies to tackle updated emissions regulations developed for real-world driving conditions.

In these regions, a typical powertrain is a three- or four-cylinder engine with a displacement size between 1,2 litres and 1,7 litres. By rightsizing engines with available technologies, automakers are able to continue to apply the benefits of smaller turbocharged engines while fine-tuning powertrain systems to further optimise fuel economy, emissions and performance.

In addition, Honeywell’s forecast calls for electric boosting products to help support compliance with more stringent national environmental standards. To this end, it is anticipated that the industry will begin moving from 12-volt battery systems to 48-volt systems.

The change will open the door for a cost-effective electric boosting technology solution featuring e-chargers and e-turbos to help improve efficiency and performance of the internal combustion engine in a mild hybrid vehicle.

According to Rabiller, e-boosting products can dramatically improve engine responsiveness and also provide better fuel economy. “Specific to diesel, it also has the potential to significantly reduce pollutant emissions, like mononitrogen oxide (NOx), and help meet more stringent regulations including the Real-Driving Emissions test in Europe,” he says.

Electrics and hybrids are expected to grow from a total of three million vehicles in 2016 to a total of 16 million by 2021. Within the electrified category, mild hybrids are expected to account for 46% of the mix; full hybrids for 40%; and pure electric vehicles will be most of the remaining 14%.

Honeywell estimates that 70% of all mild hybrids will have a turbo or multiple turbo systems (mechanical and electric). In addition, the company has drawn upon its engineering competencies in the automotive and aerospace industries to create a new two-stage electrical compressor used by Honda for its hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle.

The company’s forecast estimates that the global turbo business will be worth almost $12-billion (about R161-billion) in sales in 2021. Globally, diesel engines will retain a significant share of global light vehicle sales at nearly 18%, due to their lower fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Vehicle complexity will increase with the onboarding of new technology, making automotive software a key enabler for meeting more stringent emission regulations. The automotive industry currently spends between $2-billion and $4-billion (about R26-billion to R52-billion) a year just on the development and calibration of powertrain controls.

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