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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: Hehe
By tedrossman on 1/16/2008 6:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
In Detroit, January usually means gray skies. But this January the predominant color is green, since the 2008 North American International Auto Show was seeking to answer the big question “Which shades of green auto technology are going to be ‘in style’ for the future?”

We saw that clean diesel is near the front of the pack. This year, twelve auto manufacturers will make at least thirteen firm diesel model introductions and announcements, along with unveiling four future diesel concepts, in half a dozen market segments. Below is a list of the nearly twenty diesel vehicles on display at the Detroit auto show -- not too shabby for a 100-year-old technology.

It’s easy to see why diesel embodies the true meaning of the color green: cleaning up the emissions has brought diesel into harmony with the environment. Harmony means an effective balance of competing attributes: fuel efficiency, low emissions, performance, outstanding driving experience, and value for investment. By eliminating all the things consumers never liked about diesel (slow, smelly and smoky) and replacing those with things they will like (fast, clean and fun), diesel is a fresh alternative for the future.

Diesel is also green because it saves greenbacks in the long run – it pays you back over time in higher resale values, less fuel consumption and greater performance.

The buzz about green technologies is big, and so are the stakes. Some technologies were quickly embraced as green. Other technologies are going to have to earn it the hard way -- by proving themselves at every step of the way in the face of unrelenting scrutiny.

We’re betting that this fresh new choice -- clean diesel -- can earn its share of success through good old-fashioned hard work. Bring it on.

Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
Diesel Technology Forum

2008 NAIAS Diesel Reveals

Audi – A4 Sedan
R8 V12 TDI

BMW – X5 xDrive 35d

Chrysler – Jeep Renegade Concept
GM – Chevy Silverado in 2009
Honda – Acura models in 2009, to be followed in the future by Honda models
Kia – Borrego (2-3 years)
Land Rover- LRX
Mercedes Benz – GLK Freeside Concept
Mitsubishi – Concept RA
Saturn – Flexstreme
Subaru – Forester
Toyota –Tundra
Volkswagen – Reintroduced Jetta

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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