By on June 27, 2011

TTAC’s man-about-the-junkyard Murilee Martin has made the bold claim that we live in the golden age of cheap superchargers, but when it comes to new cars, we may be entering another “golden age” for superchargers as well. Eaton’s Ken Davis tells Automotive News [sub] that his firm is looking at doubling its supercharger sales as the technology comes into its own as a fuel-saving measure. Though turbochargers have received the lions share of attention as the industry moves towards downsized, forced-induction engines, Davis argues that supercharger have their own role to play in the effort, specifically when it comes to “downspeeding” engines to produce better power at lower RPM. He adds

Audi is our largest supercharger customer, and we are on a couple of platforms with Nissan… Nissan will bring their supercharged vehicles here. We’ll be on Audi and Volkswagen platforms, too. We are starting to get some attention.

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18 Comments on “Eaton Bullish On The “Downspeeded” Supercharged Future...”


  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    Remember the old saying “There’s no substitute for cubic inches”? Let’s get back to basics. Internal combustion engines are basically air pumps, they take in some air and they exhaust the same amount of air mixed with spent fumes. A certain cubic amount of air will produce a certain amount of power, all else being equal. I’d like to see one liter engines being used in compacts and subcompacts, with the needed extra cubic air (power) being pushed in by turbochargers and/or superchargers.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    That video link is really obnoxious.

    It AUTOPLAYS a loud ad. This in and of itself is crap.

    Not only that, the ad’s from the wrong end of the country and is targeted wrong.

  • avatar

    I can think of two GM cars and two VW cars that are supercharged. Why are turbos so much more popular?

    Price fixing?

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      Turbo-chargers are considered more efficient because they use waste combustion heat rather than driving directly off the motor.

      However it’s a packaging problem on a V6, so you end up having a pair of turbochargers , this makes it more expensive to build and harder to service. The previous Audi A6 and S4 had this arrangement and if the turbo ever failed it was a “motor out” situation.

      That’s possibly why Audi went supercharger on the current model A6, but will probably stick with turbos on the 4 cylinder cars.

    • 0 avatar
      obruni

      Nissan’s new Micra engine is supercharged.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Plenty of supercharged VWs around the world with their new “twincharger” engines that employ both super- and turbo-charging. Diamler-Benz also employs supercharging a lot. Lots of supercharged diesels around, especially from the 50s and 60s.

      Turbocharging is more popular because it is more efficient. Instead of introducing engine drag and using MORE fuel, turbocharging reclaims exhaust energy that would otherwise have been wasted, using LESS fuel. However, supercharging a small displacement engine may increase overall fuel economy if it replaces a much larger, heavier engine. Such as what Audi does now, using supercharged V-6 engines in place of their 4.2l V-8… Supercharging is easier to tune for low end torque, so it is a better replacement for large displacement V-8s than turbocharging.

  • avatar

    I had a supercharger put in my SRT8300c for less than $5000. Sucks down gas as if it is a United States military occupying force :P

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    What about *turbo-compounding* instead of just turbo-charging? Turbo’s and superchargers just allow more air/fuel to flow through the engine… you have some fuel savings because you have a smaller and lighter engine that works at a more open throttle position in daily driving…. but in real life the fuel savings is toast if you don’t drive conservatively.

    A turbo compounding system might work well with a modern hybrid-electric drivetrain.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Turbo’s are also ‘on demand’, as they can free spool in light load or coasting conditions. superchargers don’t have that ability, and it’s huge for fuel economy

    Audi (as far as I know) only uses at supercharger on the current 3.0T motor. I understand that motor will be turbo’d in the next generation. current claims are same or greater power with 20% better fuel economy. Eaton may be overly bullish.

  • avatar
    carsinamerica

    I don’t get this. A supercharger requires a more powerful engine to begin with, to drive the supercharger’s rotor. That can require a lot of horsepower, especially on big engines.

    I do remember reading about clutch-controlled superchargers that only engaged when they were needed, but that was more about improving fuel economy in overpowered cars, rather than improving the performance of small engines.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I don’t get this. A supercharger requires a more powerful engine to begin with,

      One of my cars has supercharged 1.6 liter, so it really doesn’t require a lot of power to run it’s rotors. A clutch-controlled supercharger would be great or, like I believe some WWII aircraft engines had, a variable boost through gearing.

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      “A supercharger requires a more powerful engine to begin with”.

      Do the words Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle and Judson supercharger mean anything? Take a 36 hp engine which is pretty underpowered, right? Put on a supercharger – you now have a 52 hp engine. Not a bad improvement and the mileage stayed the same.

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    Oh, how I love superchargers. I’ve got two cars, each equipped with Eaton devices.

    Buick Park Avenue Ultra with a supercharged 3.8L V-6 (Eaton M90) – sucks gas under acceleration, but returns 28-32 mpg on the highway. The charger whine is not very pronounced, but is usually noticeable above 5,000 rpm. This is an older design, but is still quite capable of keeping up with more modern technology.

    Jaguar S-Type R with a supercharged 4.2L V-8 (Eaton M112) – this car is phenomenal; still sucks gas under acceleration, but can easily obtain 25-28 mpg on the highway. That, to me at least, is incredible. A 4,000lb 400hp car getting that kind of mileage. The charger whine above 4,000 rpm is absolutely glorious.

    The new Eaton TVS in the XFR is also quite the device, and sounds as good as it performs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa5ivpJwmIQ

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Todays top fuel dragster uses over 400 hp to turn the blower. Interesting fact.

  • avatar
    Stacy McMahon

    The key is in the use of the words “low rpm”. The interaction of the supercharger ‘drag’ on the engine (power needed to run the compressor) and the valvetrain/fueling results in efficiency within a relatively narrow RPM band. Above that range, it consumes a huge amount of engine power without a proportional benefit from the boost it provides. Turbos have similar issues with respect to boost, but because they’re driven by exhaust they don’t waste engine power in the process.

    I suspect the systems Eaton has in mind all involve clutching/unclutching the supercharger to avoid those problems, but at the end of the day the supercharger still has to be driven from the crankshaft, and doesn’t recover any power from the exhaust. It cannot possibly be as efficient as a turbocharger.


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