We Need a Low Carbon Future
Across Europe, the US and Asia, regulators are setting stringent fuel economy and emissions standards that are challenging auto manufacturers to create engines that propel cleaner, more fuel efficient passenger cars and on-and-off highway commercial vehicles.
In response to this challenge, the world’s leading automotive engineers are developing new generation powertrain systems – from all electric, hybrid and clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles to the greenest diesel and gasoline engines ever to take to the roads.
As vehicle manufacturers weigh up the cost-benefits of reaching these incoming targets, analysts agree that one technology in particular – turbocharging – will play a central enabling role.
While turbodiesels will remain the dominant powertrain, stricter EU regulations on emissions and strong growth in boosted gasoline engines mean that by 2020, around 85 percent of all new light vehicles in Europe will be turbocharged, in line with demand for smaller, better performing engines.
A much tougher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard requires fleet-wide fuel economy to rise by 40 percent by 2016. Turbo penetration is expected to reach over 20 percent in the same period, driven mostly by the growth in gasoline boosting.
Japan’s traffic congestion and fuel economy agenda have historically driven the growth of the gasoline micro car segment below 1L. In the future, gasoline downsizing will remain strong and ever-cleaner turbodiesel technology may well become a new option.
Sales of turbocharged vehicles, driven by tax incentives, will likely increase threefold from 2010 to 2015, while total turbo penetration on all new light vehicles will reach close to 20 percent over the same time frame, driven mainly by the growth of gasoline boosting.
Demand for turbodiesels is predicted to mirror the European model and the long-range view is that there will be growth in turbocharged small (<1.7L) and micro (<1.0L) segments as economic development drives the desire for mobility. Newly announced fuel efficiency standards will likely drive growth of downsized turbocharged gasoline vehicles.
We Need Effective Technological Solutions
Technological innovation is at the heart of developing solutions to this central global automotive industry challenge. However, the pathway to lower emissions and fuel efficiency needs to take into account the whole-life cost of technologies, whether for all-electric, CNG, diesel, gasoline or hybrid vehicles, as well as the preferences and needs of consumers.
Today’s internal combustion engines (ICE) are more energy efficient than ever before – thanks to advances such as turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve actuation. In addition, non-powertrain technologies such as aerodynamics, lightweight materials, driver behavior systems and low resistance tires are making a strong contribution to a greener industry.
By 2020, analysts predict that electric vehicles are expected to account for less than 10 percent, dwarfed by the growth of turbocharged vehicles. This is because there are clear cost and outcome benefits in pursuing an automotive environmental strategy founded on ICE development.
We Need Affordable Technologies
Turbochargers provide a proven route to helping smaller engines deliver big engine performances, while contributing to up to 40 percent* better fuel efficiency. That adds up to great consumer benefits for relatively low costs of installation.
To assess the energy-saving benefits of technologies, we need to take into account not only the fuel consumed by vehicles, but also the energy used upstream. For example, the Greenhouse Gas impact of power generation should be factored into the whole-life effect of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Widespread vehicle electrification could also mean moving from a dependence on oil to a dependence on raw materials such as lithium and rare earths (used in electric batteries).
Taking all these factors into consideration, it’s clear that the faster adoption of new generation ICEs offers the quickest and most cost-effective route to meeting emissions standards and a reduction in automotive Greenhouse Gases.
*Comparing turbocharged diesel engine with non-turbocharged gasoline engine with equivalent power ratings.