In the global battle to reduce emissions, automakers have made considerable strides in boosting the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines thanks to fuel-saving gadgets like turbochargers.

Craig Balis, vice-president of engineers at Honeywell Turbo Technologies, told Reuters:
The turbocharger is a green technology in the sense that it's helping cut emissions and raise fuel economy. It's a critical component to get more fuel efficiency out of the engine.
Turbochargers are no longer seen only as power boosters. Nowadays, the turbo is a mainstream weapon used by most automakers to increase efficiency, Typically, a turbo'd engine is around 20 percent more fuel-efficient than a naturally aspirated engine with comparable power output.

But with most automakers shifting some degree of focus and resources to plug-in vehicles, is the turbocharger on its way out? No. Industry officials and analysts predict that turbo'd engines will stay around until at least 2030, when electric vehicles are forcecasted to start grabbing a significant chunk of sales.

The bigger question is, given advanced technology like turbochargers, does the world even need plug-in vehicles to meet upcoming CO2 emissions targets? Pierre Gaudillat, a Transport and Environment policy officer in Brussels says, "That's a valid question. The answer is: maybe not."


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  • 43 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Quote from the article " does the world even need plug-in vehicles ". The answer is yes if they decide to not produce and market fuelcell cars and suvs. So it let 2 kind of plug-ins, plug-ins without range-extender like the leaf and tesla and plug-ins with range extender like the volt from chevrolet from gm from goverment. Trends are not yet establish. Everything can happen like a magical increase in fuel economy from ice, hybrid propulsion, bev, bev with range-extender, hydrogen fuelcell, nat gas, etc. Also there is the alternate fuels, namely biofuels from green algae farming. For me the trend will be in the near-term future hydrogen fuelcells and all the other solutions like bev will be rejected by consumers and the auto insdustry. I can't see any bev succeeding in a competitive market because of too much hassles like long arduous recharge time. This was a nightmare proposed by chris m and bush and obama for petrol reselling reasons only and represent only 3 jobs versus hundreds of tousands awaiting real green cars and suvs.
      Smith Jim
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll probably catch a lot of criticism for defending the automaker but I don't care. The truth is that consumers are 90% responsible for poor fuel economy. When a large automaker gives us a choice of fuel efficient cars or gas guzzlers and WE choose the gas guzzlers it's OUR fault that CAFE numbers are low. The most fuel efficient car ever sold in the US, the first generation Honda Insight, was cancelled in 2006 because of poor sales. Meanwhile, huge SUVs were selling like the proverbial hotcakes. Today, there are 20 different models available that get 40 MPG or better and yet, for September or 2011, CAFE was less than 23 MPG.
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      EV's are in their infancy. Battery technology, electric motors, EV transmissions, EV vehicle design, and EV infrastructure will all continue to improve. Purpose built range extenders will also improve for those that can't wait for a charge. So any ICE improvements will be necessary for the slow changeover to adoption of BEV technology.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      :D
      Andrew Richard Rose
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh yeah great , remind me if you will , are we up to 28% efficiency yet ? If not maybe another hundred years of continuous development will crack it . Forgive me, but this is a desperate and largely crap post !
        Smith Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew Richard Rose
        Toyota has reached 38% thermal efficiency in the Atkinson cycle engine in the Prius. Toyota is targeting 45% thermal efficiency for their next generation of hybrids. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/04/nakata-20110411.html Here's a very interesting quote from the article, "... Nakata suggested that such an engine applied in a hybrid would result in total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions comparable to that of an electric vehicle..."
      porosavuporo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think automakers would be better off investing in alternative promising ICE technologies that are better suited for range extenders. Things with high power to weight ratios and high efficiencies. Microturbines, linear combustion engines, rotary engines etc, and free them from the usual torque curve, response time etc constraints hindering their adoption in conventional ICE setups. Piston engine layout is about the most complicated and relatively inefficient way to get BTUs converted to Kw's, and when electric main propulsion delivers necessary torque and speed characteristics, ICEs should have far more freedom to optimize the power efficiencies. So, turbos are good, but its high added complexity for a little gain. Perhaps investing in straight microturbines would make more sense ?
        Roy_H
        • 3 Years Ago
        @porosavuporo
        I think the wave disk engine is the most promising : http://gas2.org/2011/03/21/the-wave-disk-engine-cheap-efficient-clean-and-different/ Compact and simple. Very few moving parts.
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      Turbochargers do not, per se, save fuel; they only allow you to use a smaller engine in a vehicle with the benefit of increased power only when needed. Au pair with that, comes a lighter frame and engine mounts (because the engine is smaller), smaller suspension and brake components (because the vehicle's mass is smaller). Europe has seen turbo and supercharged engines for decades, still, even if you drive at your best efficiency (in which case you are probably not even using the turbocharger) the cost of fuel is a big factor. Engines can only get small to a certain point in a passenger vehicle; put an engine that is too small for the vehicle and the driving conditions it is designed for, and the fuel efficiency goes to the floor (turbo or not).
        fairfireman21
        • 3 Years Ago
        @amtoro
        A turbo is ran by the exhaust when the exhaust is pushed thru the turbo it is running, so when the motor is running so is the turbo.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't really care. Less fuel used is less fuel used. If a pure EV makes the most sense for people, then get that. If an EREV or hybrid makes more sense, get that. If a gas car is more your speed or in your price range, at least it can use less fuel than before. Win-win-win-win.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      :D
      Tweaker
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stupid question. As long as we are fighting wars over foreign oil, we will need another form of energy.
      mexicanjetta
      • 3 Years Ago
      Totally brah. How about some turbo badges on an EV? That'll show them.
      k
      • 3 Years Ago
      My electric motor is turbocharged,
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