The displacement wars are over in China, big displacement engines were once a status symbol in the early days of the Chinese car industry where small displacement V6 engines were relatively common place. But back then, fuel was subsidized by the Central Government who were bankrolling losses at China’s biggest petroleum refineries, not anymore. Chinese fuel costs are now more in line with global prices with prices fluctuating on the open market but partially protected thanks to government intervention which sees the price at the pump rise or fall if the price of oil fluctuates by 5% over a two week window.
Now gasoline is close to 8RMB in large parts of the country and already over the 8RMB barrier in Tier One cities such as Shanghai and Beijing where the local government mandates higher fuel quality for lower environmental damage. Big displacement is out, fuel sipping small displacement is in. It almost seems that the industry has been turned on its head with manufacturers racing for the biggest engines and now those manufacturers are racing for the smallest engines with the highest output.
Honeywell believe expects sales of turbocharged vehicles in China to double from 5 million units in 2013 to 10 million in 2018, with turbo penetration from all suppliers in China is approximately 22 percent at present up from 19 percent in 2012. Honeywell’s own internal data shows that naturally-aspirated engine of the same power output, a turbocharged engine provides up to 20 percent better fuel efficiency for gasoline vehicles and up to 40 percent for diesel, while reducing emissions by up to 30 percent.
“We have seen a strengthened focus on engine efficiency and emission reduction; and increasingly, Chinese automakers and consumers are turning to turbocharging as a key enabler to help achieve both emission and fuel economy goals without compromising on performance and drivability,” said David Paja, vice president and general manager for Honeywell Transportation Systems, China and India.
Volkswagen arguably started the ‘Turbo Generation’ in the Chinese market with the introduction of their own 1.8T within the Audi and VW range of vehicles as another option from the larger six cylinder engines they offered at the time.
Chinese manufacturers are not lagging behind either in the race for small displacement, BYD, Great Wall, and Brilliance for example have brought turbo engines to the market and have largely cast aside their larger naturally aspirated engine range. It seems Chinese consumers are very accepting of turbo powered engines and companies such as Honeywell are obviously well placed to take advantage of the demand, the future for turbo is clearly very bright.