Turbo specialist Garrett Motion, spun off by Honeywell International in late 2018, has nearly a dozen projects in the pipeline for its e-boosting systems. The supplier says its first electrified turbocharger will debut in 2021. Chief Technology Officer Craig Balis, 55, spoke to Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc about the future of the technology.
Garrett wants big gains from e-boosting systems
Q: How does Garrett increase its presence in the electrified powertrain value chain?
A: What we look for is to provide a technical solution that helps our customers solve a tough problem. That's our mission. It is not just adding content for content's sake. For example, adding an e-turbo to the powertrain provides an extra degree of freedom — but you need to expand the domain of what you are trying to control. The controls are more complex. We can help customers with that.
Europe has tough new emissions rules on reducing carbon dioxide. How is Garrett helping automakers meet them?
With the electrification of the powertrain through hybridization, you still have an internal combustion engine. The efficiency of that engine remains critical to the efficiency of the overall hybrid powertrain. It's possible to enable something the industry has been talking about for a long time, which is electrification of the boosting system. Rising demand for hybrids is opening the door for e-boosting, which is an area where we are very active. One example is the e-turbo.
By how much is CO2 reduced?
The first step is a fuel-efficiency improvement of about 15 percent.
Can e-turbos and hybrids be combined?
Yes. And there is potential to go further. We are just starting to understand all the benefits that you can achieve with the system.
How soon will these systems account for a high percentage of your turbocharger business?
It's too early to talk about percentages. We are working on the first launches today. You'll see those on the street around 2021. There is a very high level of interest, so we are involved in a lot of prototyping and testing to really lay out the road map for adoption.
How does it work?
If the hybrid powertrain provides a kilowatt of electric power from the battery, where do you want to put it? You can put it toward the traction motor or the electric motor that drives the car and get 1 kilowatt of motive power. However, if you put it into the turbocharger, which provides extra boost, then you get the magnification of the combustion cycle through the engine, and that single kilowatt comes out as 10 kilowatts of power that goes to the wheels.
That magnification is an indicator of the efficiency gain possible by using e-boosting systems.
What is the future powertrain mix?
One of the trends we see is the continued growth of gasoline and gasoline boosting. As part of that, we are seeing a move from the traditional waste gate technology toward variable geometry technology, which we have decades of experience in with our diesel turbos. VGT is the next step in fuel efficiency and performance for gasoline powertrains. We had a first launch a couple of years ago with Volkswagen. Now we are active with pretty much all customers.
What about diesel?
With diesel we are getting ready for Euro 7 and [real driving emissions] regulations. We will see a new range of diesel engines that will be very, very clean.
Above both [the gasoline and diesel turbo development] will be hybridization. It will be a huge part of the future powertrain road map.
How much of an increase do you expect for hybrid powertrains?
Global hybrid vehicle production is forecast to go from about 3 to 5 percent today to more than 30 percent by 2025. That is output of about 33 million hybrid cars a year globally.
Your customers still want turbos in their hybrids, right?
Hybrid vehicles have internal combustion engines, and you still need that engine to provide fuel efficiency and performance. That is why we still see growth for turbocharging in the future. By 2025, we expect the turbo penetration rate for hybrids to be even higher than it is for nonhybrids.
What else is key to Garrett's growth?
Automotive software is very important. One of the things we are doing is providing the control software that goes into the [electronic control unit] for the engine and powertrain. By providing this, we help our customers adopt and optimize the technology faster. Our software solutions help speed up the development cycle time and reduce the development effort.
Is there more willingness from automakers to hand over work?
Our customers' development organizations are stretched. So when we see a chance to provide a technology advantage, we take the opportunity. Software is a good example. Traditionally, our customers wouldn't come to us, a turbocharger supplier, to write the control software that goes into an ECU. That was either done in-house or by one of their Tier 1 electronics suppliers. Now they see we have advanced control technology at Garrett, so they're happy to outsource that work to us if we can provide a better solution.
Are you also working on solutions in cybersecurity that identify problems before they happen?
Cybersecurity fits into a broader theme we call IVHM, or integrated vehicle health management. What that means is if something is not working correctly in the car, it could be a fault, or it could mean the car has been compromised by a hack. IVHM is software that lets you monitor the overall health of the vehicle to see degradation before it becomes noticeable, meaning before a warning light goes on or the car breaks down.
With this, it's possible to sense that something is starting to have a problem. Our technology allows us to structure and map the system to be able to determine the health degradation and help in the diagnostics.
Do you have customers for those solutions?
In all areas of this software, we have projects and we are heading into production.
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