The move toward turbocharged engines continues to spool up.
A top supplier of automotive turbochargers is now predicting that North American sales of vehicles with turbocharged engines will grow 67 percent in the next five years as automakers seek a mainstream powertrain to help them meet federal fuel efficiency standards.
New Jersey-based Honeywell Turbo Technologies said it estimates that 17 percent of all vehicles sold in North America are equipped with turbocharged engines. He expects that number to increase to 31 percent by 2018.
“Downsized turbocharged engines are a no-compromise solution for consumers demanding great fuel economy and performance with the added benefit of reducing harmful emissions,” said Honeywell Transportation Systems President and CEO Terrence Hahn.
Turbocharged engines are more powerful and efficient than naturally aspirated, or conventional engines, because more air and fuel is forced into the combustion chamber. Many consumers panned turbocharged engines in past decades because of what is known as “turbo lag,” or a delayed reaction following a driver tapping the gas pedal.
Honeywell’s estimate follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent projection that by 2025, 90 percent of new vehicles in the U.S. will be turbocharged.
Automakers in North America will sell 3 million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with turbocharged engines in 2013, according to estimates from Troy-based forecaster LMC Automotive. That’s an increase from 2.1 million in 2012.
More than three-quarters of that increase will come from vehicles sold in the U.S., according to Honeywell estimates.
Globally, the auto supplier projects the turbocharger penetration rate to rise to 38 percent from 30, led mostly by North America and China.
Some automakers have already hinted that they plan to make turbocharged engines standard in coming years.
Last month, a top Volkswagen AG executive said the German automaker plans to replace its three remaining naturally aspirated or conventional gas engines with a completely turbocharged lineup in “three, four years maximum.”
Joe Bakaj, Ford Motor Co. vice president of powertrain engineering, said conventional engines could become extinct in Ford’s lineup.
“At some point in the future that will be an option,” he said. He said that hybrid vehicles, which have conventional gas engines and electric motors, would be exceptions.