BorgWarner Inc., one of the world's largest turbocharger suppliers, is preparing to challenge Eaton Corp.'s near global domination of the automotive supercharger market.
BorgWarner wants to expand into superchargers to ensure it is not left exposed to a potential fall in its core turbocharger market caused by new, stricter European emission controls. 'We have to have that (supercharging) strategy in our portfolio, said Ulli Frohn, vice president for product development and marketing at BorgWarner's Turbocharger Division.
Superchargers are essentially auxiliary air pumps driven from the engine's crankshaft. They let automakers use smaller engines without hurting performance and provide a wider array of engine choices without the massive cost of developing new engines.
Turbochargers divert the flow of exhaust to drive a performance-enhancing turbine, and increase temperatures rapidly. Some observers are concerned that the resulting effect on temperatures in the vehicle's catalytic converter would harm an engine's chances of meeting Europe's upcoming emission requirements. Catalytic converters work properly only at set temperatures.
The supercharger market is small compared with the global turbocharger market. The industry will buy 9 million turbochargers this year. Eaton has capacity to build about 300,000 superchargers, but that market could more than double by 2005.
Eaton is racing to fill a growing demand. It recently expanded its plant in Athens, Georgia, USA.