We are gathered here today to pay our respects to Saab.
The deceased Swedish automaker’s lasting legacy is not the unconventional place it put the ignition switch. It isn’t the blackout feature that allowed the driver to turn off all the instrument lights except the speedometer, nor is it the clamshell hood or any other quirky Saab feature.
Saab’s contribution to automotive history is the hottest component today: the turbocharger.
Every automaker downsizing an engine and installing a turbocharger owes a debt of gratitude to Saab for leading the way.
This will give you a good idea how important the turbocharger has become: Two weeks ago Jaguar Land Rover opened a plant in England that will build gasoline and diesel engines in many variants, as many as 500,000 engines per year when it reaches full production. Every one of those engines will have at least one turbocharger bolted to it.
Honeywell International, one of the largest suppliers of turbochargers, estimated last month that the adoption of turbochargers on light vehicles will grow at an annual rate of 14 percent in the U.S. and account for 38 percent of the U.S. market by 2019. That includes gasoline and diesel engines.