Turbocharging Hits the Wall

You may have noticed the odd – and artificial – juxtaposition:

Cars have been getting bigger – and heavier –  while engines have been getting much smaller. It’s not uncommon to find engines in the 2.0 liter range in vehicles in the two ton range.

Why not appropriately sized engines – V6s and V8s – for these vehicles

Ask Uncle!

Larger, roomier – and heavier – vehicles continue to be very popular with buyers. So the car companies continue to build them. But Uncle insists (and decrees) that all vehicles must use and less less gas.

No matter what it takes – and no matter what it costs. Because the object isn’t really “saving gas.”

Uncle is opposed to what buyers want – and he’s been trying his best for decades to prevent the car companies from building what they want. He does this by attaching heavy fines to any cars that don’t meet mandatory MPG minimums – currently set at about 36 MPG –  thus making them more and more expensive to buy, in order to discourage them from being built in the first place.

Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 11:50 EDT - Details) Note that the MPG minimums apply to all cars – even though there are cars that exceed the MPG minimums. It’s not enough for Uncle that cars are available that get very high gas mileage.

He insists cars that don’t become unavailable.  Larger vehicles, stronger vehicles. More capable vehicles. Uncle wants everyone out of those – and into “efficient” – read, small – cars.

This doesn’t apply to Uncle, of course.

But the car companies did something sly – and laudable. They figured out how to meet Uncle’s MPG minimums – or at least, get close enough that the fines have remained manageable – without downsizing the vehicles or gimping their performance.

They downsized the engines, which resulted in their using less fuel.

But kept the power up by turbocharging them.

Off boost, a smaller engine uses less gas than a larger one. On boost, it can produce as much power as a larger engine.

This solved both problems.

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