If you’ve noticed a lot of wheezing while slushing through rush hour traffic lately it may be more than just the smog agitating everyone’s asthma – it might be all the turbochargers in the other cars you are hearing.
Over the past few years the number of turbocharged vehicles on North American roads has gone from just 2 percent in 2008 to 9.5 percent for 2011 and that number is expected to rise another 61 percent this year according to Honeywell Turbo Technologies, manufacturer of turbochargers used by many automakers today.
According to Honeywell data, the number of turbocharged commercial and passenger vehicles sold will reach 3.2 million in 2012, one million more units than last year, and passenger vehicles will account for most of that.
“With fuel prices being a significant concern for consumers and businesses, turbochargers are a smart choice for getting more miles to the gallon,” said Tony Schultz, vice president for the Americas, Honeywell Turbo Technologies. “It’s a proven technology that can be used across market segments and does not put the consumer in an extended payback period like other technologies to realize its benefits. Turbocharging technology has been a fuel economy driver for decades in the United States for the on- and off-highway commercial vehicle market, as well as in global passenger vehicle markets like Europe.”
Vehicles such as Ford models featuring its EcoBoost engines are turbocharged as well as new models such as the Chevy Cruze and upcoming Dodge Dart utilize turbocharged gasoline engines. Automakers have been turbocharging diesel engines sold here for more than a decade and with much success of late.
While some may be hesitant to go the turbo route for a host of reasons, the technology offers the ability to downsize engine displacement and cylinder count without a tradeoff in power while achieving better fuel economy and improved emissions. Turbocharging does add heat and technological challenges to modern engine compartments but manufacturers tout increased reliability over technology of past decades.
Strict fuel economy and emissions standards are here to stay and turbocharging is a way for automakers to come into compliance with the tough federal rules. As for me, I am a fan of turbocharging and look forward to driving the next generation of “street wheezers.”