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Turbocharged petrols to play a bigger role


Honeywell Turbo technologies India expects floodgates for turbo petrols to open with the launch of the Tata Zest. Why? Read on...

 

 

Tata Zest Revotron petrol with Honeywell turbocharger

 

 

 

Turbocharged petrol engines are the norm these days globally. Almost every new car aiming to deliver on the performance front has a turbocharger bolted on. In most cases, you’d find a twin turbo like the new BMW M3 and the recently launched Mercedes-AMG GT while BMW is also exploring tri-turbos. You even have a quad turbo setup in the Bugatti Veyron. All these applications have one basic reason – a turbocharger is compact and a better solution over higher engine displacement to improve performance by a certain degree. In addition to a weight advantage and a performance edge, turbocharging improves fuel efficiency too as a smaller capacity engine burns lesser fuel, while the exhaust gases making the turbos spool are doing their extra bit.

 

A turbocharger’s fuel efficiency and performance benefit is just about trickling into India in the past few years though. Europe has been turbocharging small capacity petrol engines extensively for the better part of the decade, some examples being Volkswagen’s TSI units, Ford’s EcoBoost range and Fiat’s TwinAir setup. Every manufacturer either has one or wants one. According to Honeywell, 40 percent of all petrol engines sold in Europe are now turbocharged. 

Coming to India, in addition to the benefits of efficiency and performance, there’s the arm twisted by our motor vehicle act. You just can’t have a car under 4-metres in length have a petrol engine larger than 1.2-litres and be price competitive at the same time. Everything from hatchbacks to compact sedans to sedans to compact SUVs have a performance and efficiency limitation as a result. But then came Volkswagen and Ford with their 1.2-litre TSI and 1.0-litre EcoBoost engines. Both are undoubtedly impressive on the power front but what both carmakers failed to realize is that in a country obsessed with fuel economy, these engines needed a different approach. 

 

Tata Motors is the first carmaker to introduce a turbo petrol in the Zest that will be locally manufactured and targets efficiency over all else. Honeywell Turbo Technologies is manufacturing the turbocharger for the 1.2-litre Revotron engine used in the Zest at its Pune plant. The company says that turbocharging has helped improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by 20-30 percent over a larger capacity naturally aspirated engine with a similar output. 

 

 

Tata Zest Revotron petrol with Honeywell turbocharger

 

 

 

Engine downsizing is a trend that has caught up across the world as emission norms are getting tougher with every update. Terrence Hahn, President and CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems says that this has got turbocharging to mainstream automobiles. Almost 90 percent of new car launches with turbo petrols supplied by Honeywell are going towards small capacity engines says Hahn.

 

Turbocharging small capacity petrols is a lot more challenging than similar capacity diesels though. Turbo speeds are faster and the temperature is significantly higher, about 8-10 times that of a diesel engine. That makes material selection and reliability requirements much harsher according to Hahn. It does give the engine a new dimension, and when it comes to Tata’s Revotron unit, it gives the Indian carmaker an edge over its competitors in terms of outright output. To read how it fares in comparison to its rest of the compact sedan segment, click here.

 

Honeywell has the capacity to manufacture one million turbochargers per annum and can ramp up production to 1.5 million units if the need arises. Talks are on with other Indian car companies says Honeywell, but a decision and announcement will have to come from the Carmaker first so the Turbocharger company is tightlipped about future projects. What Hahn expects is the trend of turbocharging petrols finally catching up in India similar to what Europe has seen in the recent past. And he says it is here to stay as long as our demand for fuel efficiency, the price of petrol vis-à-vis diesel and current car excise slabs continue to be the way they are.

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