- Ford Motor Company said today it is introducing a 1.5-liter version of its expanding EcoBoost family of turbocharged, direct-injection engines.
- First use for the new 1.5-liter EcoBoost is for the 2014 Fusion midsize sedan.
- Ford isn't yet saying if the 1.5-liter EcoBoost will be available with a manual transmission in the Fusion.
DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford Motor Company said at a media event here today it will introduce the fifth member of its popular EcoBoost engine family, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that will find its first home in the 2014 Fusion midsize sedan later this year.
Ford didn't release detailed specifications for the new 1.5-liter EcoBoost, but executives promised no performance downgrade and a fuel economy improvement when compared with today's 1.6-liter EcoBoost.
Don't fret, model-proliferation fanatics: Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering, said the 1.5-liter will replace the 1.6-liter EcoBoost currently used in the 2013 Fusion. He wouldn't yet say if the new 1.5-liter EcoBoost will be available with a six-speed manual transmission, as is today's Fusion with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost. We're betting Ford will stick with the manual for the smaller engine — at least initially.
If you're wondering about why Ford pulled the trigger on a new engine so close in size to a current power plant, the answer lies, as it often does these days, with the Chinese market. China's vehicle taxation structure is based on engine displacement, and the 1.5-liter threshold is "a big tax-break point in China," Bakaj said. He said a Chinese motorist would save about $300 annually in vehicle taxes with a 1.5-liter engine rather than a 1.6-liter.
Ford is preparing to show the Mondeo sedan — the platform-mate of the Fusion — at the Shanghai auto show later this month in preparation for selling the Mondeo in China. An engine of 1.5 liters to assure a less costly vehicle tax was deemed vital to the Mondeo's positioning in the market.
The new EcoBoost four-cylinder will be built in Romania, where the existing 1.6-liter EcoBoost is assembled. Bakaj would not say if or when Ford might shift production of the engine to North America, but conceded Ford is underway with an effort to install more flexible engine-production tooling in its global engine plants.
Ford currently is building about 70,000 EcoBoost engines every month. In addition to the new 1.5-liter, there is a 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost (coming later this year for the Fiesta), 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinders and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.
And here's a notable stat Ford threw at journalists today to demonstrate the momentum of engine downsizing in the U.S. market: In 2009, about 28 percent of all vehicles were fitted with four-cylinder engines. This year, Ford projects the four-cylinder engine installation rate to come in at 54 percent — almost double 2009's total. And by 2020, the company projects 66 percent of all U.S. passenger vehicles will use a four-cylinder.
Edmunds says: A slightly smaller EcoBoost engine for the Fusion probably is only the beginning. It's almost certain we'll see the new 1.5-liter displacement in other Ford models.