DETROIT--The United States has become one of the most promising growth markets for turbochargers, and two companies--Honeywell International and BorgWarner--are vying for domination.
By 2015, about 20 percent of vehicles made in North America will be turbocharged, up from 11 percent last year, Honeywell forecasts.
Alex Ismail, CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems, says his company is winning a lot of new business.
"Turbo is the heavyweight in our product portfolio," Ismail told Automotive News. "We are happy to see momentum picking up in the United States."
Independent analysts also are upbeat. Last fall, J.D. Power and Associates predicted that as many as 25 percent of light vehicles sold in the United States in 2015 would be turbocharged, up from 8 percent in 2010.
At the time, Mike Omotoso, J.D. Power's senior manager of global power trains, said turbochargers "will be used by nearly all major carmakers. ... We see turbochargers being adopted across the board."
Turbocharger sales in the United States got a boost when the federal government's corporate average fuel economy targets were raised to 35.5 mpg by the 2016 model year. Adding a turbo can enable a four-cylinder engine to deliver the power of a V-6 while retaining the size, weight, and fuel-efficiency advantages of the smaller engine.
Honeywell and BorgWarner are duking it out vehicle by vehicle. Both companies supply Ford Motor, for instance, and Ford wants 90 percent of its North American models equipped with turbocharged EcoBoost engines by 2013.
Honeywell supplies turbos for Ford's 3.5-liter engine for front-wheel-drive models such as the Lincoln MKS and MKT. BorgWarner makes turbos for Ford's 1.6- and 2.0-liter engines. Some Ford Explorers, for example, are powered by a 2.0-liter engine with a BorgWarner turbo.
Neck and neck
Who is ahead? BorgWarner spokeswoman Erika Nielsen says BorgWarner and Honeywell are neck and neck in sales in the North American light-vehicle market. But Ismail says, and BorgWarner concedes, that Honeywell is the world's largest turbocharger producer for all vehicle segments combined, including light- and heavy-duty vehicles, marine and construction and other off-road equipment.
Ismail declines to divulge the company's unit sales. But he says Honeywell won $3 billion in new business last year. That's enough, he says, for Honeywell to stay No. 1 globally for the next five years.
This year, Honeywell's transportation division expects to generate $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion in revenue, up from $4.2 billion in 2010, Ismail says, with turbochargers accounting for 60 percent of those revenues.
(Source: Automotive News)