There's a quiet revolution going on in the auto world, one that isn't as trendy as plug-in cars or hybrids: turbocharged engines.
Cheaper to build and buy than hybrid systems, they offer great gas mileage and great performance.
In some cases, such as the 3-cylinder 2014 Ford Focus 1.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost, which is rumored to launch in the U.S. next year, the resulting gas mileage may equal or even beat those of a hybrid car, while retaining the power and performance of a much bigger engine.
Because smaller, turbocharged engines are also cheaper to build and develop than full-blown hybrid systems, many automakers, including Ford, Hyundai and General Motors are now favoring turbochargers over hybrid systems as their preferred way to meet tough CAFE Mileage rules.
2013 Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost live photos
2013 Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost live photosEnlarge Photo
According to parts manufacturer Honeywell, the cost advantage turbocharged engines have over hybrid systems means that by the end of 2012, an estimated 3.2 million turbocharged vehicles will have been sold during the year.
That’s 1 million more turbocharged vehicles than were sold during 2011.
Because the financial impact of using turbochargers -- even electrically-powered ones -- is much lower than implementing a hybrid drivetrain, there’s much less of of a sticker shock for buyers.
Unlike hybrids, which tend to scream their eco-credentials, many small, turbocharged cars don’t even display any badge to signify what’s under the hood.
As a consequence, many car buyers don’t even realize they’re buying a turbocharged car, making it almost stealth for many.
But we’re not sure car buyers really want or need to know what’s going on under the hood. For them, all that matters is gas mileage, responsive power, and a good purchase price.