Superchargers and turbochargers boost an engine's power by forcing additional air into the intake manifold.
Turbochargers, which are powered by the vehicle's exhaust gases, allow automakers to downsize the engine without sacrificing power. But acceleration is modest at low engine speeds.
Superchargers, in contrast, can provide instant acceleration at low engine speeds. But they draw their power via a belt from the engine itself, causing parasitic energy losses.
In theory, a twin-charging system - that is, an engine powered by a supercharger and turbo - could combine the best attributes of each with the supercharger providing quick acceleration at low speeds and the turbo taking over at high speeds. But a twin-blower system adds cost and complexity.
Though VW's Twincharger has won awards for design, VW plans to replace it in the coming years with an engine that has a turbocharger but no supercharger.
The new engine has been optimized so that its turbocharger can spool up quickly, even at relatively low rpms, according to a VW spokesman.
For now, turbochargers appear to be the auto industry's dominant blower technology.
According to analyst Jeff Jowett of IHS Automotive, automakers in North America are expected to produce 2.2 million vehicles with blowers this year, and the vast majority are turbochargers.
Honeywell Turbo Technologies and BorgWarner Inc. dominate the turbo market, but Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH and Continental AG are muscling into the segment.