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Business deals

Honda and IHI rev up Formula One turbocharger ties

Once used primarily in racing, the devices are now used in energy-efficient cars

Honda's Formula One race cars have been using IHI turbochargers since 2015. They will now become full partners in the field. (Photo by Koji Uema)

TOKYO -- Japanese heavy machinery maker IHI has signed a partnership with Honda Motor to supply turbochargers for Formula One racing cars, with hopes of revisiting the glory days of their collaboration in the 1980s.

Under a deal announced Tuesday, IHI will supply turbochargers for power units designed by Honda for the 2019 and 2020 racing seasons. The companies will collaborate closely in design and development, "carrying out study and assessment from the concept stage in order to win the championship," IHI said.

Turbochargers use exhaust gas to compress air inflow into the engine and boost engine output. Racing cars have long employed this device, but it has found broader use in recent years in popular models on the market as a green technology to downsize the engine while maintaining output.

Honda and IHI-- then known as Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries -- together supplied a turbo engine for the McLaren car that won the championship in the 1988 season, driven by the famous Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna.

Turbochargers were later banned in Formula One for some time. Since the ban was lifted in 2015, IHI has supplied them to Honda. The latest deal upgrades IHI's status from supplier to partner.

The global market for turbochargers is dominated by four major players: IHI, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Honeywell and BorgWarner. Competition is intensifying as demand grows for parts in new-energy cars.

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