Special Coverage

SAE World Congress

DETROIT – While the mad dash to improve fuel economy is expected to double global demand for turbocharged engines by 2013, unit sales of turbochargers will triple, says a leading powertrain technology supplier.

“Fuel economy will be a primary driver behind powertrain development for years to come,” BorgWarner Inc. Chairman and CEO Tim Manganello tells a forum here at the SAE 2008 World Congress.

Turbocharging is one means of improving fuel economy without compromising performance – still a key consumer demand. And the proliferation of twin-turbo engines, such as BMW AG’s 3.0L I-6, is behind the projected hike in unit sales, says Manganello, whose forecast is consistent with recent trends.

From ’06 to ’07, U.S.-market installation rates for turbocharged engines increased 0.7% to 2.3%, according to Ward’s data.

Unlike BMW’s spark-ignition twin-turbo I-6, which aligns one blower with cylinders 1-3 and the other with cylinders 4-6, Manganello expects most future applications will be in series, featuring turbos of disparate sizes. The smaller of the two will spool up first, allowing time for the larger unit to kick in, he says.

Aligning two large turbos to generate higher top-end boost is “old technology,” Manganello adds.

Regulatory pressure also will boost technologies such as gasoline direct injection and dual-clutch transmissions, Manganello says.

Featured in 1.9 million engines globally, in 2007, direct injection will be found in 7.5 million engines, annually, by 2013, he says. Because the technology, like turbocharging, allows for engine downsizing without power loss, it should be particularly attractive to U.S. consumers who prefer V-8s to V-6s.

“We still think big,” Manganello jokes.

Meanwhile, fuel-saving, dual-clutch transmissions – pioneered in the mass market by the BorgWarner-supplied Direct-Shift Gear (DSG) technology in Volkswagen AG vehicles – will see a 58% jump between 2009 and 2012.

Frank Klegon, Chrysler LLC executive vice president-product development and World Congress general chairman, mentions DCT while listing technological advancements the auto maker has on the drawing board.

The ’09 Dodge Journey CUV is the first Chrysler vehicle to feature the technology. Production for DCT-equipped European-market models began earlier this year.

No timeline is set for a North American introduction.

Meanwhile, Klegon warns in a keynote address, the auto industry is in “an era of change.”

Auto makers are being called on to design and build affordable, functional, fun-to-drive products that comply with increasingly restrictive regulations, he says. And the pace of change is “inescapable, accelerating and something that must be contended with.”

Despite these pressures, Klegon urges engineers to remain confident in the face of today’s challenges.

“We can’t turn the clock back, but there’s really no need to,” he says.