Robert Gillette, CEO of Honeywell's Transportation and Power Systems, which owns the Garrett brand, says his company forecasts growth of
between 9 percent and 12 percent
a year in gasoline engine turbochargers in the U.S. market. Worldwide, Garrett sold about 8 million turbochargers last year.
Says Gillette: "Most of our customers are focused on performance. If they can achieve superior performance, they'll buy it. You've got to have something that creates value."
A turbocharger and its related equipment add between $600 and $900 to the cost of a car. But an automaker can recover that and more if a turbocharger is used on the right vehicle, says Lindsay Brooke, senior analyst with consulting firm CSM Worldwide Inc. in Northville, Mich.
"Having a turbo badge doesn't hurt in certain segments of the market," Brooke says. A turbocharger, he adds, has "street cred" or gets respect for drivers of sporty compact cars.
But, he says, a turbocharger might not improve fuel economy because the type of person who would buy a turbocharged car likely would drive it aggressively and cancel out the gains that come from downsizing the engine.
Even if turbochargers see limited use on gasoline-powered engines, both Garrett and BorgWarner say the future looks good for another reason: Turbochargers can help diesel engines meet tougher exhaust emissions standards.
"We play a role in helping an engine manufacturer keep the performance and fuel economy targets with a robust and flexible boost system," says BorgWarner's McKinley. "What we can do with a diesel engine is make the air system very tolerant and flexible. The engine manufacturer can supply very high amounts of exhaust gasses back into the cylinder. It lowers the overall combustion temperature and reduces NOx (oxides of