Ford To Introduce Fuel-Saving Direct Injection EnginesBy John O'Dell January 7, 2008
Compressed intake air (blue) and exhaust gases (red) that drive turbo.
Ford finally gets into the green game in a big way with a turbocharged, direct injection gasoline engine, to be unveiled next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
More than 2.5 million Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles will get the new (for Ford) four- and six-cylinder engines from launch in 2009 through 2013, Ford Global Product Chief Derrick Kuzak told reporters during an embargoed briefing on the technology last month.
The move is significant because with more than 16 million new cars and trucks sold each year in the U.S, it is going to take rapid and widespread application of fuel-saving and low-emission technologies to make a significant dent in the nation's oil dependency and air quality problems.
Ford says its version of direct injection technology, which it calls EcoBoost, will enable cars and trucks that use it to deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy with 15 percent fewer carbon-dioxide emissions than versions equipped with standard fuel-injected engines of similar output. Ford said it also plans to introduce new hybrid vehicles and light-duty trucks with diesel engines. The company also is developing plug-in hybrid technology – the first prototypes are being tested now in a two-year program run by Southern California Edison Co. -- as well as hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars and biofuel-capable vehicles.
The first Ford product to get the EcoBoost engine will be the Lincoln MKS sedan when it is introduced next year. It will be available with a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 with output Ford estimates at 340 horsepower and more than 340 pound-feet of torque. That will be followed by the 2009 Ford Flex crossover, likely to get a four-cylinder version of the engine, and the Taurus (formerly the Ford Five Hundred).
Explorer American concept uses Ecoboost and moves Explorer off truck frame.
At the Detroit auto show next week Ford also will unveil an Explorer concept, the Explorer America, a unibody model that uses a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine rated at 275 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, output that closes in on the best V6s on the market.
As contributor Bill Visnic points out, several other carmakers -- including Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford's own Mazda subsidiary – already offer direct injection gas engines on some vehicles in the U.S.
The technology also is widely used in Europe and Asia, where large engines are penalized through various tax and fee programs. BMW also is preparing a direct injection gas engine for the U.S. market.
Ford, which also is lagging European competitors in the race to bring fuel-efficient and economical diesel cars to market in the U.S., argues that the EcoBoost engine will deliver almost as much power and fuel economy as a similar-size diesel at far less cost.
The company hasn't released engine prices, but Kuzak said fuel savings could enable owners to recoup the premium in 2.5 years, versus as much as seven years for diesels, which can cost from $5,000 to $7,000 more than a comparable gas engine, and up to 12 years for a luxury hybrid.
The EcoBoost engines, which run on regular unleaded fuel, work by injecting highly pressurized fuel (yellow in illustration) directly into each cylinder instead of vaporizing and mixing it with air (blue) in an intake port. Direct injection, used by many diesel engines and by some competitors in a variety of gasoline engines, permits the fuel to be used more efficiently.
By combining that technology with turbocharging -- in which exhaust gases (red) are used to power a turbine that compresses air going into the intake, increasing engine output by boosting the amount of air in the air-fuel mix -- –the EcoBoost engine delivers far more power and fuel economy than a conventional gas engine.
Ford says it will couple the EcoBoost technology with other features including electronic power-assisted steering, lightweight frame and body materials, six-speed transmissions and improved aerodynamics.
That, the carmaker says, will enable it to use smaller, lighter engines in its vehicles to improve fuel economy and emissions reductions while still providing the performance consumers demand.
Photo illustrations courtesy Ford Motor Co.