TRAVERSE CITY, MI – While the outlook for many automotive suppliers remains gloomy, Honeywell International sees sunny skies ahead for the powertrain technology and components it delivers to auto makers.
Adriane Brown, who was named president and CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems in January, paints an especially bright picture for turbodiesel engines during a session here at the Management Briefing Seminars. She also sees gains for hybrid drivetrains and, eventually, fuel cells.
All of these engines require "lots of air" to operate most efficiently, providing Honeywell – steeped in a half-century of air-moving turbocharger know-how – a potentially major role in the new wave of powerplants.
Following the success of turbodiesels in Europe, hybrid turbocharged engines already are being developed by DaimlerChrysler AG,Corp. and Motor Co. Ltd., she says, but provides no timeline for implementation.
Brown cites a J.D. Power & Associates report indicating turbodiesels will capture 7.5% of the U.S. market by 2012, compared with a miniscule share today.
She also is bullish about Honeywell's e-Turbo system aimed at fuel-cell vehicles. It uses an electric motor to bring the turbo up to speed to supply air "even at very low operating speeds," she says. Again, she gives no timetable nor reveals any prospective customers.
Although facing tough cost challenges, Brown sees twin turbochargers catching on in diesel engines. Honeywell is working on a system in which both turbos run off a single shaft to overcome engine-compartment packaging problems, possibly reducing costs.
She notes V-shape engines would require a 4-turbo arrangement.
An unnamed European auto maker will introduce a vehicle by 2008 using Honeywell's variable geometry compressor, which Brown says raises torque by 20% and increases turbo speed by 700 rpm over current variable geometry turbochargers.
Turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engines, following diesel's lead, also show promise, she says. "The next trick will be to bring variable geometry to gasoline" engines, she says, noting progress has been hampered by higher temperatures vs. diesels.
Honeywell's aerospace unit is working with Brown's team to develop high-performance alloys that are affordable for automotive use.