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Ford makes big promises for small engines

Auto manufacturers are furiously working up ways to increase the fuel economy of their vehicles without compromising the consumer's current expectations of large, powerful vehicles thanks to new CAFE regulations.

General Motors recently unveiled the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line with an improved two-mode hybrid system, and still hopes to push out the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt by 2010. Toyota is merrily improving their popular Prius, while Honda is promising both a hot-hatch revival with the CR-Z concept and the "family diesel" in the 2009 Accord. Ford, on the other hand, is taking an entirely different approach, trying to make the adage "More From Less" apply to high-powered SUVs and sedans.

At the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, Ford was showcased a new family of four and six-cylinder engines, dubbed "EcoBoost" to highlight their improved fuel economy. While the words "new engine technology" were thrown around fairly often to describe the EcoBoost line, the cornerstone technologies behind the engines -- direct injection and turbocharging -- should be immediately familiar to anyone who's followed automotive powertrain development in recent years. As the name suggests, Ford is trying to give small, high-boost engines a market beyond the current demographic of performance junkies -- but they need to get their foot in the door somehow.

The first vehicle to receive an “EcoBoosting” will be the upcoming 2009 Lincoln MKS. Shown in 2007 as the "MKR Concept," the MKS will feature a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 said to produce approximately 340 horsepower, and 340 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 5,000 RPM. Those hoping for a four-door, rear-drive performance sedan will be disappointed to discover the transverse mounting of the engine, and the associated choices of FWD or AWD; however, the possibility of such a vehicle hasn't been entirely ruled out.

Returning to the economical side of the impeller, Ford also featured a 2.0L turbo four, claiming an impressive 275hp and 280lb-ft. While such an engine would seem a perfect fit for a sport compact, Ford had bigger ambitions for the "little engine that could" -- announcing that it would be the base engine for the Ford Explorer America concept.

Ford's VP of product development, Derrick Kuzak, had high hopes for the technology, praising its low initial cost in comparison to other engine designs. "Compared with the current cost of diesel and hybrid technologies, customers in North America can expect to recoup their initial investment in a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine through fuel savings in approximately 30 months." That's not to say that hybrids and diesels will be abandoned -- some light-duty Fords will be receiving these options as well.

Strangely, no mention of an EcoBoost engine was made for the Mustang -- perhaps Ford still has some of the hundreds of thousands of letters they received the last time they suggested a replacement.



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RE: About time...
By Ringold on 1/7/2008 4:34:52 PM , Rating: 2
Ford F-150 doesn't have one, Camry doesn't have one, Accord doesn't have one -- almost no Toyota, Honda, GM, or Fords go out the door with them, to my knowledge.

That single handedly destroyed most of the market.

Thanks for quoting all the also-ran's in the US market, though. Almost forgot who they were. :P


RE: About time...
By Spuke on 1/7/2008 4:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
One of Honda's SUV's has a turbo but not with direct injection.


RE: About time...
By Circle T on 1/7/2008 4:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
The question wasn't what percentage of the market they occupy. It was how many brands offer a turbo charged engine already. And you can see how many that is.

No, of course they aren't going to be neck and neck with the F-150 or Camry. I don't recall ever saying they were. But, these aren't exactly small manufacturers that I mentioned, or limited sellers.

I mean, basically every Audi, VW and Subaru model sold, give or take, has a turbocharged engine available, and is the biggest seller of the range. And, the exotics and sports cars aside, the rest of these vehicles aren't exactly rare cars. No one ever said they were top sellers, or besting the Camry in sales. But, this isn't a trivial amount of cars we are talking about.


RE: About time...
By othercents on 1/7/2008 7:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I mean, basically every Audi, VW and Subaru model sold, give or take, has a turbocharged engine available, and is the biggest seller of the range.

So back on subject. What is the fuel economy of those turbocharged vehicles? I believe those vehicles won't pass the new CAFE standards.

Other


RE: About time...
By Circle T on 1/7/2008 8:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the way I understand that works is you just have to average 35mpg as an ENTIRE brand, not just per model. A model itself doesn't qualify or not, just the brand.

So, take Nissan for example. Even though the new GTR will almost certainly not achieve 35mpg anywhere, the Versa almost does at 33mpg, and will help offset that net loss. Obviously, they all have some work to do to get up to 35mpg average, but that is why they have 12 years to do so.

But, more specific to your question, I'll list highway mpg of the turbo versions for you...

Audi A3 - 29mpg
Audi A4 - 28mpg
Audi TT - 31mpg
VW GTI - 29mpg
VW GLI - 29mpg
VW Passat - 32mpg
VW Eos - 31mpg
Suby WRX - 25mpg
Suby Legacy - 25mpg
Suby Forester - 25mpg

I may have missed a couple in there, but you get the point. Many of those cars are already very close to the standard. And many of those are with old engines.

But with 12 years to go before those new standards are enacted, there is a lot of time for things to change and advance. I mean, with Honda's typical 4-year cycle for its cars, we will have seen 3 versions of the Accord before these standards go into effect.


RE: About time...
By radializer on 1/7/2008 8:49:35 PM , Rating: 2
The EPA ratings for the Subaru WRX are 20/25 for city/hwy. Through personal use and monitoring, I can claim about 21mpg during my regular work commute (no freeways, city streets only) and 28 ~ 30mpg on the freeways during intercity drives, where I maintain speeds in the range of 70 ~ 80mph.

Among all the turbocharged cars available in the US, the Subarus are probably on the lower end of mpg ratings - not sure if this stems from the standard AWD on them or if their hwy ratings are just conservative.


RE: About time...
By Circle T on 1/7/2008 9:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
not sure if this stems from the standard AWD on them or if their hwy ratings are just conservative.

The age of the engine doesn't help much either. By todays standards, the EJ engines are getting VERY long in the tooth. Much like how Mitsu FINALLY stopped using the 4G63 engine in the Evo and moved on to a more modern engine, Suby really needs to do the same. You can only tweak and refine so much before you need to just start fresh.


RE: About time...
By Spuke on 1/8/2008 12:00:48 AM , Rating: 2
You have to use the combined rating for the new CAFE standards. Also, the EPA mileage sticker can't be directed equated to the mileage number that the CAFE uses. I just found this info. See this link: http://tinyurl.com/ynq4ol. One of the posters at the bottom explains it.


RE: About time...
By Circle T on 1/8/2008 12:26:49 AM , Rating: 2
Your linky no worky.

But, either way, I know what you are getting at. I was just showing the mpg of the cars in question.


RE: About time...
By Spuke on 1/8/2008 12:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
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