Rising oil prices and a push by governments around the world for tougher emissions standards has got carmakers desperately looking for ways of maintaining performance while reducing fuel consumption. Some of the solutions used already include direct-injection and cylinder-deactivation technologies but one proven method has been around with us for decades and that’s turbocharging.

Carmakers have reignited the love affair with the turbocharger, a technology that was first used by mainstream manufacturers as far back as the 1960s, but the turbo systems of today are markedly different to the units used in the past. Modern turbos are much smaller than their forbearers. Instead of being a performance mod to boost power and torque, modern turbos are there to save fuel. Being small also has the advantage of eliminating dreaded ‘turbo lag,’ the time between the moment you press your foot on the accelerator and the point at which the turbo’s added boost kicks in.

In keeping with that trend, Japan’s IHI Corp has now announced that it has developed the world’s smallest turbocharger for use in cars. The design is about 20% smaller than existing models and will be first used in a range of new Daihatsu minicars. IHI also supplies turbochargers to numerous European carmakers, including BMW and Mercedes, so it won’t be long until we see similar pint-sized blowers in even more cars.