Mercedes-AMG Is Putting an Electric Turbocharger Into Production
Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz
From the popular mechanics
Formula 1 engines have been using electric turbochargers for several years, with an electric motor attached to their shafts that connects the compressor and the turbine wheels. The effect is practically no turbo deceleration, since the electric motor rotates the compressor and the turbine much faster than exhaust gases alone. Neat stuff, and thanks to Mercedes-AMG, road vehicles are produced.
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AMG announced today that it will use an electric turbocharger developed with Garrett in a future production model. A Mercedes spokesman told Road & Track that this turbo will be used for a variant of the 2.0-liter M139 from AMG that is currently used in the new 45-series vehicles. Mercedes isn't yet announcing which model this turbo will debut with, but it's worth noting that reports were released last year that AMG could give up the V-8 for the next C63 and use a kind of four-cylinder instead. This M139 with an electric turbocharger certainly sounds as if it could be.
This new electric turbocharger is fascinating. The idea is to combine the quick response of a smaller turbo with the power generation ability of a large turbo. As with an F1 MGU-H, the electric motor is mounted directly on the shaft that connects the turbine and compressor wheels. The engine is powered by a 48-volt electrical system and turns the compressor wheel up before the exhaust gases turn up the turbine.
Mercedes-AMG makes bold statements about the results. "Turbo lag - the lagged response of a conventional turbocharger - is eliminated by the electric motor," the brand said in a press release. The 1.6-inch-wide electric motor keeps the compressor spinning even when the driver accelerates, so you don't have to wait until you get the power again. According to Mercedes, the electric motor also helps to improve torque in the lower speed range, and eventually it can potentially generate energy itself, just like an MGU-H.
The M139 offers a maximum of 414 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and it's unclear how these numbers will change with the new electric turbocharger. Mercedes told Road & Track: "The use of the electrified turbocharger is not aimed at achieving the highest possible peak performance. Rather, this technology increases the efficiency, the responsiveness and the usable speed range of charged engines."
It is also worth noting that this is different than the electric auxiliary compressor that AMG uses in the 53 series vehicles. This unit is a separate compressor that is driven by an electric motor and feeds air directly into the engine or turbocharger. It achieves similar goals - reducing turbo deceleration and improving torque in the lower range - but is a separate device from the turbocharger.
Mercedes will use a similar electric turbocharger in its ONE hypercar, which borrows the engine from its 2017 F1 car. But that's probably more important. Modern F1 technology comes to mainstream series cars.
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