BorgWarner has defended the increasing adoption of turbochargers for engine downsizing in response to suggestions that the fuel efficiency benefits versus larger naturally aspirated engines may be exaggerated.

BorgWarner is a major supplier of turbochargers to vehicle manufacturers, many of whom are adopting turbochargers to downsize engines and better meet upcoming tighter standards on fuel efficiency. A report published recently by Consumer Reports magazine said that the benefits of such technology could be overstated as its tests showed that downsized engines with turbos showed similar efficiency results as vehicles with larger engines. “Our testing shows these small-displacement turbos are not delivering on the promises,” the report said.

BorgWarner was questioned on the subject at its fourth quarter earnings call with analysts. In response the company said that driving styles can produce big variations in such tests and that it is seeing a big take-up in the technology.

“You can get variations in the results that you get depending on what test cycle you use, what type of driving behaviour, actually independent of any technology,” said James Verrier, BorgWarner President, COO and CEO [comments from transcript source]. 

“At a simple level though our view is almost every indicator we look at towards turbocharger penetration continues to be very strong. We’re not seeing any slowdown in adoption rates, we’re not seeing any slowdown in activity and interest levels from customers and I think that's just driven by, from our view that the fundamentals of turbochargers remain extremely solid. 

“It’s a key technology to help the engineers downsize their engines and get the type of fuel economy that we need and we have seen that success all around the world for many, many years and we just see that trend continuing on.

“We pay attention to the report, but we pay attention to all of those reports and there’s an awful lot of them that are very positive about turbocharger performance and adoption rates.”