Tur­bos and the elec­tric car

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

In the global bat­tle against car­bon emis­sions, car­mak­ers have made con­sid­er­able progress in re­cent years, boost­ing the fuel ef­fi­ciency of their in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines, thanks to gad­gets such as tur­bocharg­ers, say industry of­fi­cials and an­a­lysts

Al­though it may be an odd-sound­ing name for a green tech­nol­ogy, the tur­bocharger raises fuel ef­fi­ciency lev­els by as much as 40 per­cent and is now in­cluded in 75 per­cent of new cars in Europe - and that could rise to nearly 90 per­cent by 2015.

They are far less com­mon in the United States, mainly due to Amer­i­cans’ aver­sion to diesel-pow­ered cars, but that is ex­pected to change soon in an era of strict fuel-con­sump­tion stan­dards.

Craig Balis, vice-pres­i­dent for en­gi­neer­ing at Honey­well Turbo Tech­nolo­gies, ex­plained: “The tur­bocharger is a green tech­nol­ogy in the sense that it’s help­ing cut emis­sions and raise fuel econ­omy.

“It’s a crit­i­cal com­po­nent to get more fuel ef­fi­ciency out of the en­gine.”

While the men­tion of tur­bocharg­ers might have once con­jured up images of loud, pow­er­ful en­gines, they have in the mean­time be­come a tool of choice for cut­ting car­bon emis­sions.

A diesel en­gine fit­ted with a tur­bocharger can go 40 per­cent fur­ther and a petrol en­gine 20 per­cent fur­ther on a litre of fuel. Ford says the tur­bocharged 2012 Ford Ex­plorer, for in­stance, burns about 10.2 litres per 100km com­pared to nearly 12 for the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated ver­sion.

Balis said: “Emis­sions reg­u­la­tions in Europe, the United States and world­wide are a driv­ing force for cleaner, greener ve­hi­cles and that’s a great land­scape for tur­bocharg­ing.

“We’re con­fi­dent about the con­tin­ued evo­lu­tion of com­bus­tion en­gines and the grow­ing role tur­bocharg­ing has.”

The fo­cus on elec­tric cars and low-emis­sion ve­hi­cles at the Frank­furt mo­tor show has been in­tense this year with pretty much ev­ery man­u­fac­turer tout­ing their plug-ins or plans to take the plunge into the brave new world of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

But industry of­fi­cials and an­a­lysts say elec­tric cars will have only a small sliver of the mar­ket even by 2020. Doubts abound about pro­hib­i­tively high bat­tery costs, in­fras­truc­ture is­sues, range anx­i­ety and the size of the elec­tric cars’ car­bon foot­print when power comes from fos­sil-fuel burn­ing­burn­ing plants.

What is the point of charg­ing a bat­tery with ith elec­tric­ity pro­duced from a coal-burn­ing -burn­ing power plant?

Christoph h Stuer­mer, a car industry an­a­lyst t at IHS Global Insight re­search in­sti­tute,nsti­tute, said: “Con­sumers are be­ing ng naive to think they’ll be able to go out and buy an elec­tricc car now. Peo­ple wan­tant them but they’re e not re­ally ready for the mass mar­ket.” et.”

Pierre Gaudil­lat, a pol­icy of­fi­cer at the Trans­port and En­vi­ron­ment­ment lobby group p in Brus­sels, said tur­bochar­garg­ers are not t the “sil­ver bul­let” let” in the bat­tle against CO2 but agreed greed they are an im­por­tantnt de­vice to re- duce emis­sions.

“They are one an­swer but not the an­swer,” he said. “It’s one of the main strate­gies car­mak­ers are us­ing now — down­siz­ing. Smaller en­gines with a turbo that squeeze out more power.”

So does the world re­ally still need elec­tric cars from a CO2 point of view?

“That’s a valid ques­tion,” said Gaudil­lat. “The an­swer is: maybe not. Tur­bos are a no-brainer for cut­ting CO2 be­cause the ef­fi­ciency gains are re­ally quite sig­nif­i­cant. In the near term we don’t re­ally need and can’t count on elec­tric ve­hi­cles to de­liver the CO2 sav­ings. Maybe not un­til about 2030 or 2050.”

Tur­bocharg­ers have helped raised fuel-ef­fi­ciency in car­mak­ers such as BMW, Volk­swa­gen, Re­nault, Porsche, Chevro­let, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes and Opel.

Balis said the Chevro­let Cruze, a four-door sedan, is a ster­ling ex­am­ple of how tur­bocharg­ers help de­liver enough power to a small 1.4-litre en­gine to make it at­trac­tive to con­sumers. Tur­bocharg­ers are only in about 10 per­cent of new US cars but that is ex­pected to dou­ble in the next five years to 20 per­cent.

“The Chevy Cruze is a main­stream ve­hi­cle in the United States,” he said. “A few years ago you couldn’t imag­ine such a small en­gine on a US car. But now it’s hap­pen­ing thanks to the tur­bocharger — and do­ing well.”

Tur­bocharg­ers help in­crease the air en­ter­ing en­gines. Cost­ing a few thou­sand rand, tur­bocharg­ers cover their added cost with fuel sav­ings with- in about 18 months, ac­cord­ing to Luca Zerbini, head of Honey­well’s strate­gic mar­ket­ing.

As Balis speaks about the po­ten­tial tur­bocharg­ers have to fur­ther cut emis­sions in the next decade, the ques­tion arises about whether tur­bocharg­ers will con­trib­ute to fuel ef­fi­ciency be­ing im­proved so far that elec­tric cars will be, from a car­bon point of view, scarcely any bet­ter?

“If the to­tal im­pact of CO2 is cal­cu­lated, you re­alise the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine is not so bad and that at the pace it’s go­ing with the help of tur­bocharg­ers, it’s still a very com­pet­i­tive tech­nol­ogy and will be for a long time,” he said. “We’re con­fi­dent that this path has a long way to go.”

— Reuters

The Chevro­let Cruze is a ster­ling ex­am­ple of how tur­bocharg­ers help de­liver enough power

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