We all want to have our cake and eat it too. More power, better fuel economy, less emissions. With turbocharging, that has become a possibility. Today’s cars aren’t suffering in power, but are more efficient than ever before. The drive to develop more efficient engines has been spurred on by high gas prices and strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
While recently the turbo has taken on a more important role, it is far from a newfangled thing – the first turbocharger on a North American production vehicle was in 1962 with the Oldsmobile Turbo Jetfire. In the years since, turbocharging never really played a huge part of the automotive scene here in the United States.
Americans have always liked big, naturally-aspirated engines. Hyundai was the first to dump the V-6 in a mid-size sedan, and Chevrolet and Ford have followed suit. This has been a noticeable trend in the industry, but now we have some hard data on it thanks to Honeywell. Apparently Honeywell is large supplier of turbochargers for Original Equipment Manufacturers. In 2012, Honeywell expects sales of turbocharged passenger and commercial vehicles to rise to 3.2 million units, a huge year-over-year increase from last years 2.2 million units. The growth is expected to only continue in the future, with a 23.5 percent market share by 2017.
Last year’s 2.2 million units was good enough to capture 9.5 percent of the market. As evidence of how much they have taken off, they only accounted for about 2 percent of sales last year. Looking deeper into auto industry trends is a study from J.D Power & Associates. Four-cylinders (which are most likely to be turbocharged, incidentally) accounted for 49.7 percent of the market last year. That is up from 42.7 percent in 2008. Sales of V-8s are also down as well, from 18.3 percent in 2008 to 14.6 percent last year. V-6 engines are expected to increase in percentage, as full-size truck buyers increasingly turn to them over their V-8 counterparts. Times they are a changing! Thankfully, power outputs are better than ever. The only question now is how reliability will fare over the long term.