The benefits of turbocharging have been well documented, yet still today the technology is not as common as one would expect. Perhaps it’s because until now the price of fuel was not such a major issue and manufacturers could satisfy the demand for power with higher displacement engines. However, the price of fuel has gone up and is soon expected to rise even further, so we’re likely to see even more cars featuring forced induction because of its improved efficiency.
Diesel powered cars have been using turbos for years, but now more petrol powered vehicles are coming equipped with the blowers. Companies like US automotive parts supplier, BorgWarner, are improving the technology and hope that their turbo & emission systems will feature in most cars in just ten years. The most recent breakthrough was the development of variable turbine geometry (VTG) for the first time in a car, featuring in the 997 Porsche 911 Turbo, which develops 60hp more than the previous model. VTG works by changing the orientation of the turbo blades depending on engine speed, creating fewer surfaces at high speeds and more space at low speeds and thus minimizing turbo lag.
The major hindrance was developing materials which could withstand the high temperatures inside the turbo. Together with Porsche, BorgWarner developed a system suitable for a road-going car and now the technology may become a common option for new cars. Like any new automotive technology, there’s usually a trickle down effect that takes several years before the feature becomes affordable. Most innovations that appear on a flagship car, such as the Mercedes S-class, take roughly ten years to reach mainstream vehicles. BorgWarner claims the same thing will happen with VTG turbocharging.