Do We Need EVs with Turbo Engines Becoming so Fuel Efficient?
October 17, 2011 1:15 PM
comment(s) - last by
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
10/19/2011 2:12:25 PM
Right you are -- turbo mode is not efficient for fuel economy (that is, the fraction of heat content turned into mechanical work.)
The reason it is proposed as a fuel economy mod is that it allows the car to be designed with a smaller ICE yet be able to (albeit inefficiently) reach max power levels the non-turbo engine cannot. Since cars are usually operated in low power conditions, the improvement in partial power losses is thought to be an overall gain in fuel economy.
While true in theory, in practice many drivers engage turbo where it is not needed, and end up with fuel economy no better and sometimes worse than a non-turbo car. Turbo is a boon for car manufacturers, since it allows them to post fuel economy results much higher than before. Rare buyers realize the results are with turbo OFF. Once the first manufacturer gamed the fuel economy ratings with turbo, it was inevitable that everybody else would follow for marketing purposes. The ubiquity of turbo is as much for its marketing advantages as its technical merit.
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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