As MPG Demands Rise, Supercharger Sales Boost Expected

By Trevor Dorchies | June 27, 2011
With ever stricter fuel economy and emissions regulations looming, the automotive industry is working overtime on ways to boost MPGs without sacrificing performance. Ken Davis, president of Eaton Corp.’s vehicle group, says he has the solution -- throw on a supercharger. Davis says his company’s supercharger can boost the performance of small engines without sacrificing horsepower or miles per gallon, and that it offers advantages over turbocharging. Both superchargers and turbo units increase engine power by forcing more air/fuel mixture into the cylinders. Turbochargers use the pressure from the engine’s exhaust, which can take time to boost engine power. Superchargers are usually driven by a belt connected to the engine, allowing air to be delivered to the engine immediately. Eaton’s core business is as a supplier for commercial vehicles, making superchargers, engine valves, truck transmissions, differentials and other components. But Eaton’s vehicle group has been paying more attention to light vehicles lately, and in July 2009 it merged its truck and automotive businesses into a single entity.
Heavy-hitters in the automotive world are turning to the supplier for superchargers, which are beginning to be bolted onto the engines of U.S market cars. “Audi is our largest supercharger customer, and we are on a couple of platforms with Nissan,” Davis told Automotive News.  “Clearly superchargers are the product line with the most growth potential. We think we can more than double our supercharger business in the next five years.” Right now the European market is Eaton’s biggest, and not surprisingly, the company is planning an expansion into Asia, especially China. Davis believes the coming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) by 2014-2018 standards will help Eaton hit its sales targets quickly. Would you buy a car with a downsized powertrain and supercharger?