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Proportion of vehicles using the technology forecast to grow 6% per annum

December 12, 2016

6 Min Read
Turbocharger growth bodes well for high temperature resins

By 2021, 48% of new cars sold will adopt turbocharger technology according to a major supplier of the components. According to Honeywell's Transportation Systems Forecast, 52 million vehicles will be equipped with turbos in 2021, compared with from 38 million today, representing 6% per annum growth versus the 2% per annum that the auto industry is growing at overall.

Used in components such as charge ducting, polyamide plays a key enabling role in turbocharging technology for motor vehicles.

High temperature polyamides are typically employed in blow-molded turbocharger air ducts. BASF high-temperature polyamide (PA) Ultramid Endure D5G3 BM, for example, is used in the charge air duct which Mann+Hummel has manufactured for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine of the BMW Group. The PA 66 with 15% glass fibers reportedly has a high heat-aging resistance, can be processed easily and shows extraordinary acoustic properties. It is temperature resistant up to 220°C at continuous use, with possible peak temperature loads of up to 240°C.

“As emission regulations continue to tighten, mature automotive markets like the United States and high-growth regions like China and India are turning to turbochargers to help provide cleaner transportation. This is creating what we refer to as the ‘Golden Age of Turbo,’” said Olivier Rabiller, Honeywell Transportation Systems president and CEO. "With the ability to improve emissions and fuel economy by 20 to 40 percent in gas and diesel engines, turbocharging technology is a smart choice for helping automakers meet tougher global emissions standards without sacrificing performance."

This year’s forecast recognizes an industry trend for slightly bigger engine sizes in Europe and China as automakers adapt powertrain strategies to tackle updated emissions regulations developed for real-world driving conditions. In these regions, a typical powertrain is a three- or four-cylinder engine with a displacement size between 1.2 liters and 1.7 liters. By rightsizing engines with available technologies, automakers are able to continue applying the benefits of smaller turbocharged engines while fine-tuning powertrain systems to further optimize fuel economy, emissions and performance.

In addition, Honeywell's forecast calls for electric boosting products to help support compliance with more stringent national environmental standards. To this end, it is anticipated that the industry will begin moving from 12-volt battery systems to 48-volt systems. This change opens the door for a cost-effective electric boosting technology solution featuring e-chargers and e-turbos to help improve efficiency and performance of the internal combustion engine in a mild hybrid vehicle. E-boosting products can dramatically improve engine responsiveness and also provide better fuel economy. Specific to diesel, it also has the potential to significantly reduce pollutant emissions, like mononitrogen oxide (NOx), and help meet more stringent regulations including the Real-Driving Emissions test in Europe.

In addition, electrics and hybrids are expected to grow from a total of 3 million vehicles in 2016 to a total of 16 million by 2021. Within the electrified category, mild hybrids are expected to account for 46% of the mix; full hybrids will likely account for 40 percent; and pure electric vehicles will account most of the remaining 14%. Honeywell estimates 70% of all mild hybrid vehicles will have a turbo or multiple turbo systems (mechanical and electric). In addition, Honeywell has drawn upon its engineering competencies in the automotive and aerospace industries to create a new two-stage electrical compressor used by Honda Motor Co. for its hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle.

While the mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens have announced plans to ban diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025, globally diesel engines will retain a significant share of global light vehicle sales at nearly 18 percent, due to their lower fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions according to Honeywell. Diesel engines also provide increased torque, range and driving pleasure especially for pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, which remain extremely popular.

The utilization of diesel engines in transportation has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years due to growing concerns about its impact on air quality. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that around three million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution and the number is estimated to be around 467,000 in Europe alone. Diesel engines reportedly contribute to the problem in two key ways - through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death.

Engine downsizing in North America

In North America, more engine downsizing is expected. The current average engine size is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder. As the region continues to shift from larger naturally aspirated engines to smaller turbocharged ones, Honeywell is working to provide more twin-scroll turbo technology support, which extracts more energy from four-cylinder exhaust profiles. Honeywell expects sales of turbocharged light vehicles to grow 11 points to 33 percent of regional sales or more than 7 million vehicles by 2021. Turbocharged diesel engines will continue to be in demand on light-duty trucks.

Meanwhile, Europe will easily remain the global leader with an overall turbo penetration of 74 percent. The mix between gasoline and diesel will shift slightly as gas turbo penetration in light vehicle sales grows 9 points to 52 percent in 2021. Additional technology benefits are needed as many automakers still have a gap of 15 to 30 g/km before meeting the 2021 target of 95 g/km.

“An example of the rightsizing we are seeing in Europe would be the 2.0-liter engine of five to seven years ago that became a downsized 1.0-liter with a turbocharger. Going forward, that same engine may evolve to a 1.2-liter to 1.5-liter turbocharged engine to help retain the fuel economy and emission benefits of a smaller engine than the original, and still account for real-world driving habits of consumers while meeting regulatory targets,” says Pierre Barthelet, Honeywell Transportation Systems Chief Marketing Officer.

In China, emissions regulations are scheduled to become the toughest in the world. These new rules will favor the development of gasoline turbocharged engines and wider adoption of electrification. China will be the highest growth market for turbocharged light vehicles with a 16 point increase in penetration of total sales. This equates to an expected 80 percent increase in the number of annual sales in 2021 at more than 13.5 million versus 7.5 million in 2016. Honeywell is supporting this massive turbo adoption in China especially in the three-cylinder engine segment using its third-generation gas technology. This features a wastegate with a Honeywell-developed mono-block arm and valve, reducing noise by 5 to 10 decibels and improving fuel economy by up to 0.5 percent with better controllability and 50 percent less wear due to repetitive motion within the turbo housing.

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