What is the outlook for automotive turbochargers? According to Honeywell Transportation Systems CEO Olivier Rabiller, we are at the beginning of a “golden age of turbo.”

One reason is that emissions regulations are continuing to tighten so that mature automotive markets like those in the United States and high-growth regions like China and India are turning to turbochargers to help provide cleaner transportation.

"With the ability to improve emissions and fuel economy by 20 to 40% in gas and diesel engines, turbocharging technology is a smart choice for helping automakers meet tougher global emissions standards without sacrificing performance," says Rabiller.

Honeywell's Transportation Systems Forecast estimates that between 2017 and 2021, 232 million turbocharged vehicles will be added across the globe, an increase of 35% from today. Mild hybrids are expected to account for 46% of vehicles by 2021. Honeywell estimates 70% of all mild hybrid vehicles will have a turbo or multiple turbo systems.

The forecast also predicts an increase in the use of electric boosting products. To enable cost-effective electric boosting technology, it is anticipated that battery systems will be moving from 12 to 48 volts. That change will support the development of cost effective electric boosting technology, which will help improve efficiency and performance of the internal combustion engine in a mild hybrid vehicle.

Electric boosting can dramatically improve engine responsiveness and also provide better fuel economy. For diesel engines, it has the potential to significantly reduce pollutant emissions, like mono nitrogen oxide, and help meet more stringent regulations including the Real-Driving Emissions Test in Europe.

Turbochargers will likely enable European and Asian automakers to slightly increase the size of their powertrains to adapt to the real-world driving habits of consumers while still meeting emissions standards. For example, in Europe the 2.0-liter engine of 5-7 years ago, which became downsized to 1.0 liters with a turbocharger, may evolve to a 1.2 – 1.5 liter engine.