Last year, Americans purchased some 12.8 million new vehicles. Of that number, 1.3 million vehicles, or roughly 10 percent, came with turbocharged engines.
In just five years, however, turbo supplier Honeywell expects that total to climb to four million turbocharged vehicles, representing 25-percent of the projected 16 million sales. Put another way, in 2017, one in four new vehicles sold in the United States will be turbocharged.
As Honeywell’s Vice President of the Americas for Turbocharger Technology, Tony Schultz, told Automotive News (subscription required), “With the new CAFE standards out there, downsized powertrains is (sic) a primary adoption strategy. In North America, I don’t see any slowdown in the adoption rate.”
To make power acceptable to American drivers, these downsized powertrains are turning to forced induction (usually in the form of turbocharging) to produce the kind of output and acceleration we’re accustomed to.
Ford was an early adopter of turbocharging, and its EcoBoost V-6 engines drive very much like conventional V-8s while delivering superior fuel economy. The same holds true for its EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, which perform much like earlier V-6 engines while returning better gas mileage.
Ford’s EcoBoost strategy has proven so successful that the automaker will offer turbocharged engines across 90-percent of its product line in 2013. Word is that even the new Mustang, due in 2014, will come with an available EcoBoost engine option, recalling the four-cylinder turbo Mustang SVO built from 1984 to 1986.
Not all automakers have embraced turbocharging as a means to raise fuel economy. Toyota and Honda have invested heavily in hybrid technology, making a change in direction at this point costly.
Nonetheless, Toyota will begin to introduce small-displacement turbocharged engines in 2014, though whether these will be U.S.-bound remains to be seen.