A Hallmark Throughout Turbo History

February 11, 2012

When Caterpillar needed a turbocharger developed for its D9 tractor in 1950, it didn’t call an automotive supplier. Instead it called an aerospace company — Garrett Corporation, whose successful development of turbochargers led to the formation of AiResearch Industrial Division, which later became part of Honeywell.

Known at the time for producing gas turbine engines and cabin pressurization systems, Garrett had well-developed expertise in turbo-machinery and aerodynamics: areas that would prove essential in developing a mainstream turbocharger application.

Following the first phase of the Caterpillar project, Garrett turbochargers saw ever wider use on earth-moving equipment, in tractors, stationary powerplants, railroad locomatives and ships. The Garrett T11 automotive turbocharger came into being in 1960 and promtly became popular with diesel truck operators.

By 1962, Garrett was powering the world’s first turbocharger production car, the Oldsmobile Jetfire Rocket. This was followed by several other firsts, including the first turbocharged car to win the Indianapolis 500 (1968), the first turbo for a non sports car application (1977-Saab 99), the first mass production turbo for diesel engines (1978-Mercedes 300TD), and the first turbo to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1978-Renault).

The real game changer came in 1990s with the development of VNT™ (Variable Nozzle Turbine) technology. First introduced on Chrysler Dodge Daytona Shelby Turbo Z in 1990 and a year later on the Fiat Croma in Europe, VNT™ allowed a turbocharger to adjust to an engine’s air boosting requirements as needed, providing superior performance and fuel economy.

While the commitment to developing and manufacturing leading-edge turbochargers has remained constant, the years have seen Garrett evolve into The Signal Companies in the 1970s, and then AlliedSignal in the 1980s. In 1999 it then became Honeywell when that company merged with AlliedSignal.

Since the beginning of the new century, the innovation pace at Honeywell Turbo Technology has quickened. In 2002, the variable geometry technology was successfully adapted for commercial vehicles (AVNT™) on the Ford F250 and F350. The third-generation VNT™ for passenger cars was introduced in 2004 for the BMW 1 Series. In 2006, Honeywell launched the world’s first diesel Parallel Sequential Dual-Stage turbo technology on Peugeot 407 and 607 and the Citroen C5 and C6. In 2008, Honeywell turbos are equipped on Ford’s new EcoBoost engine, ushering a new turbocharging era in the US.

Regardless of the name, each Honeywell turbocharger continues to carry the pioneering spirit of its early engineers that has made turbocharging more relevant than ever.

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