Transportation has always been a huge consumer of energy, but basic efficiency increases in gasoline-powered central combustion engines there has been minimal change to energy use in the transportation sector for the last century.

A transformational combination of shifting fuel prices and availability, leaps in technology development and looming regulatory deadlines are poised to create huge changes in the transport sector, though many of them may be at first invisible to customers.

Honeywell says its businesses are, strategically, largely in the area of saving energy and in the flip side of that equation, in boosting energy efficiency. From smart grid efforts to aerospace to the engine parts in a car, the firm is working to use lessons learned from one part of the business in another.

In North America, “the market is evolving very quickly,” Steve McKinley, VP of Engineering for Honeywell Turbo Technologies, told Breaking Energy recently. Mile per gallon engine efficiency requirements roughly double those in place today are “difficult” goals for major carmakers, and they are using “any and every technology they can to get there,” he said.

Honeywell is prepared to help them bridge the next 15-20 years of carbuilding as standards tighten to reach the new goals, and central to its transport efficiency efforts is the Honeywell Turbocharger. The turbocharger increases air flow through an engine and builds on the lessons of Honeywell’s aerospace group in building smaller, lighter components.

Turbocharged engines cost more – as much as $500-2000 more – than existing standard combustion engines, McKinley said. But the technology has performance benefits and allows car buyers to take a more customized approach to how much power they want from their engine.

The US will be the equivalent of an “emerging market” for car buying and technology uptake over the coming years as new efficiency standards take hold, Honeywell Director of Communications for Honeywell Transportation Systems Michael Stoller said. North America will be building on advances already seen in European transport markets, in line with a “phenomena we’re pretty much seeing around the globe,” McKinley said.