Do We Need EVs with Turbo Engines Becoming so Fuel Efficient?
October 17, 2011 1:15 PM
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You're doing it wrong.
Turbos are on 75% of new cars sold in Europe
You don't have to be a scientist or an automotive engineer to look at the fuel economy that major automakers are squeezing out of their vehicles with normal combustion engines today and wonder if we really need EVs and hybrids. More than one diesel car in Europe is able to provide fuel economy as good or better than the hybrids people generally think are so fuel thrifty.
The catch is that we rarely see diesel engines in the US inside a car, that will be changing, but the diesel car isn't common today for American drivers. One thing that is becoming very common for fuel efficiency sake is the addition of a turbocharger to allow a smaller displacement engine to produce acceptable power to provide the performance drivers expect.
The turbocharger is something that was often thought of for performance cars like the Grand National Buick in the mid to late 1980's. Today the turbo is used in a number of engines including the very popular EcoBoost line from Ford. Ford's EcoBoost engine inside the
is selling very well and has a towing capacity on par with normal engines with larger displacement. The turbocharger is even more widely used in Europe where
reports that 75% of all new cars come with one.
Craig Balis from Honeywell Turbo Technologies told Reuters in an interview, "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."
"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," said Balis. "We're confident about the continued evolution of combustion engines and the growing role turbocharging has."
reports that a diesel engine that has a turbocharger can get 40% more mileage than one without a turbo and a gas engine can go 20% further per liter of fuel than one without a turbo. With the impressive economy that normal engines with turbochargers achieve there are many that wonder if we even need EVs and hybrids.
Pierre Gaudillat, policy officer at the Transport and Environment lobby group in Brussels, was asked if we need EVs from a CO2 point of view. He said, "That's a valid question. 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."
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RE: Stop spreading misconceptions about Turbos
10/18/2011 2:46:51 PM
I'd also like to add that turbo engines run a lower compression ratio than NA engines which reduces efficiency.
The turbo is a tradeoff- you gain some power from a smaller engine but you lose some efficiency compared to having a higher compression NA engine with the same displacement. You need to work out the math to see what kind of tradeoffs you're willing to make.
For instance, pretend you're designing a car:
If you use a 1.5 liter naturally aspirated engine you'll get good gas mileage but your vehicle will lack power when you need it.
If you use a turbocharged 1.5 liter engine you'll get slightly poorer gas mileage than the NA engine due to the lower compression ratio but you'll have some extra power when you need it.
If you use a 2 liter naturally aspirated engine you'll get slightly poorer gas mileage than the NA 1.5 liter engine because of the added friction of having a larger motor, but it might be cheaper than the turbo engine and get similar gas mileage.
My 300ZX has a 3 liter engine with 2 turbos, and with my boost increased it makes as much power as a Corvette. The Corvette engine has a much higher displacement which hurts efficiency but it also has a higher compression ratio which helps efficiency. As a result of that and the Corvette's aerodynamics, it gets better gas mileage than my Z. And to top it all off the "giant" GM V8 is physically smaller and lighter than my Z's engine (since it's all aluminum and has internal cams/pushrods as opposed to my Z's cast iron block with big heads with dual overhead cams in them.)
That's what engineering is all about- understanding tradeoffs and designing the best gadget you can for the cost.
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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