DETROIT -- French supplier Valeo has developed an electric turbocharger that it says eliminates "turbo lag."
The new turbocharger is powered by an electric motor instead of exhaust gases.
When not needed, the turbo's impeller, which pumps air and fuel into the cylinders, still spins at 10,000 rpm, so there is minimal hesitation or lag in engine response when the driver presses the accelerator pedal.
But there are downsides: cost and power consumption. The unit requires 48-volt power, which means additional electronics under the hood. It also is a heavy user of electricity.
Still, automakers are intrigued.
Audi has been testing the electric turbocharger and is expected to be first to market the device. It recently tested the turbocharger on Pikes Peak in Colorado.