U.S. sees surge in turbocharged vehicles sales image

The automotive industry in the U.S. appears to be finally moving toward turbochargers as the answer for improving fuel mileage while increasing power – and one of the players in the industry expects sales of turbocharged commercial and passenger vehicles in North America to increase by 67% during the next five years.

Turbochargers help ram more air into an engine’s cylinders when needed. In effect, for sale they create the equivalent of a bigger – and more powerful — engine upon demand. The benefit is that when power demands are light, a motorist gets the fuel economy of the smaller engine.

And now companies have been working out the kinks in turbos because they represent a viable way to achieve government-mandated fuel economy rules while meeting buyer-mandated desires for power.

Honeywell Turbo Technologies estimates current penetration of turbocharged commercial and passenger vehicles is currently at 17% of vehicle sales in North America and expects that number to increase to 31% of total sales by 2018.

One of the more preeminent backers of the technology is Ford, with its EcoBoost line-up, introduced in 2009 – the maker now offers EcoBoost on 85% of its worldwide engine line-up.

Next to Ford, VW also appears ready to go turbo in the US: “You have to have a turbo these days,” said Marc Trahan, an executive vice president with Volkswagen of America. “We only have one normally aspirated gas engine, and when we go to the next generation vehicle that it’s in, it will be replaced. So, three, four years maximum.”

The growth curve for turbo equipped cars is also leading the EPA to predict that 90% of new vehicles in the U.S. market could be turbocharged by 2025 when the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations will require all new cars and trucks to achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon (4.3 L/100km).