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Now that all the major automakers have acknowledged the reality of both climate change and the need for increased fuel efficiency, they are all looking for ways to address the problems. Speaking at a preview prior to the 2008 Detroit Auto Show Ford Global Product Development VP Derrick Kuzak made it clear that in order to have any real impact, improvements need to start happening quickly and on a large scale. With a U.S. vehicle fleet approaching 200 million vehicles and only about 16 million new vehicles on the road each year, it takes 15-20 years to turn over the fleet to cleaner, more efficient vehicles.
In order to meet the total fleet CO2 reductions that will be needed over the next several decades, millions of vehicles per year need to cleaned up - a few hundred to a few thousand vehicles won't have an impact. To achieve that, economically efficient solutions will be required so that car buyers can afford to buy. The first steps toward that for Ford will be weight reduction and gasoline-turbocharged-direct-injection (GTDI) engines. GTDI? Yes. Read on past the jump to learn more.
Related GalleryFord EcoBoost GDTI engines
Related GalleryDetroit 2008: Ford Explorer America concept Gallery
Over the next five years Ford plans to have at least 500,000 cars a year powered by GTDI engines. Many of new models coming in that time frame will be using GTDI power-plants in place of larger, normally-aspirated engines. First up will be the Lincoln MKS, which in 2009 will get a 3.5L GTDI V-6 as the optional engine. When the original MKS concept appeared at the 2006 Detroit show it used the Volvo-Yamaha 4.4L V-8 from the XC90.
At the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, Ford showed the Lincoln MKR concept using this new configuration. The Twin-Force name used for the concept has now been replaced by EcoBoost to play up the fuel economy aspect of the technology. The second application for the GDTI V-6 will be the new Ford Flex CUV followed by the next-generation Explorer which is being previewed with this year's Explorer America Concept. The V-6 in the SUV will improve mileage by more than 2mpg compared to the current 4.6L V-8 while providing more power and torque and it will save 150-200lbs. The base engine in the Explorer is expected to be a 2.0L four cylinder EcoBoost model.
When discussing GTDI technology, Kuzak gave a run-down on the payback times based on fuel savings for various technologies. Disregarding any tax credits which are becoming unavailable on some vehicles as sales increase, a four cylinder hybrid drive-train has a pay-back time of about 11.5 years. A comparable four cylinder diesel has a 7.5 year payback. A four cylinder GTDI will save enough fuel to recover the extra cost in 2.5 years. Those figures are based on gasoline at $2.87/gallon, diesel at $2.90/gallon and 15,000 miles per year of driving.
The V-6 will be just the first of many GTDI engines from Ford. The 2.0L four cylinder GTDI will likely supplant the current 3.0L V-6 in the next few years offering a 5mpg improvement over the larger engine with less weight. A smaller 1.4L GTDI will also replace larger, normally-aspirated fours much as Volkswagen has done with their TFSI engines in their European lineup.
In all cases the use of direct injection will offer multiple advantages. Engines will be able to run at higher compression ratios with less risk of engine damaging knock because the fuel is injected just before ignition. Because the fuel is not included in the intake charge, the timing of the valve opening and closing can be optimized to allow for extra exhaust scavenging. This results in lower intake air temperatures in the cylinder and reduced risk of pre-ignition. The combination of the higher compression ratios and turbocharging results in much improved torque at all engine speeds giving better low speed drivability of the smaller engines. The effect is a feeling more like a diesel engine. The low inertia turbochargers and direct injection also contribute to eliminating that bugaboo of old-time turbo engines, the lag between pressing the accelerator and getting actual forward motion.
All of Ford's GTDI engines will eventually be flex-fuel, although the first 3.5L won't be at launch. The variable boost control and variable valve timing will allow for greater control flexibility and allow the engines to get closer to parity on mileage and have improved performance when running on ethanol as well.
One of the other major advantages of EcoBoost is that it provides efficiency benefits at under all driving conditions, not just urban stop and go or just highway. The GTDI V-6 in the MKS will be rated at approximately 340hp and 340lb-ft of torque when it's introduced, which puts it well past either the Volvo 4.4L V-8 or Ford's own 4.6L. In the transverse engine configuration of the MKS, the transmission and the rest of the drivetrain are actually the limiting factor in performance. When the GTDI V-6 goes into longitudinal configurations like the Explorer, it will be able to have an even higher output.
Ford press release
FORD TO EQUIP HALF A MILLION VEHICLES WITH ECOBOOST ENGINE TECHNOLOGY FOR UP TO 20% BETTER FUEL ECONOMY
DETROIT, Jan. 6, 2008 – Ford Motor Company is introducing a new engine technology called EcoBoost that will deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy on half a million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles annually in North America during the next five years.
The EcoBoost family of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines features turbocharging and direct injection technology. Compared with more expensive hybrids and diesel engines, EcoBoost builds upon today's affordable gasoline engine and improves it, providing more customers with a way to improve fuel economy and emissions without compromising driving performance.
"EcoBoost is meaningful because it can be applied across a wide variety of engine types in a range of vehicles, from small cars to large trucks – and it's affordable," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development.
"Compared with the current cost of diesel and hybrid technologies, customers can expect to recoup their initial investment in a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine through fuel savings in approximately 30 months. A diesel will take an average of seven and one-half years, while the cost of a hybrid will take nearly 12 years to recoup – given equivalent miles driven per year and fuel costs," he said.
Ford will introduce EcoBoost on the new Lincoln MKS flagship in 2009, followed by the Ford Flex and other vehicles. By 2013, Ford will have more than half a million EcoBoost-powered vehicles on the road annually in North America.
In 2009, Ford first will introduce EcoBoost on the Lincoln MKS featuring a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6. It will produce the power and torque of a V-8 engine with the fuel efficiency of a V-6. In fact, with an estimated 340-horsepower and more than 340 lb.-ft. of torque, the Lincoln MKS will be the most powerful and fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive luxury sedan in the market.
More With Less
EcoBoost's combination of direct injection and turbocharging mitigates the traditional disadvantages of downsizing and boosting 4- and 6-cylinder engines, giving customers both superior performance as well as fuel economy.
With direct injection, fuel is injected into each cylinder of an engine in small, precise amounts. Compared to conventional port injection, direct injection produces a cooler, denser charge, delivering higher fuel economy and performance.
When combined with modern-day turbocharging – which uses waste energy from the exhaust gas to drive the turbine – direct injection provides the best of both worlds: the responsiveness of a larger-displacement engine with fewer trips to the gas pump.
Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, for example, can deliver upwards of 340-plus lb.-ft. of torque across a wide engine range – 2,000 to 5,000 rpm versus 270 to 310 lb.-ft of torque for a conventional naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8 over the same speed range. At the same time, this V-6 gives customers an approximate 2 mpg improvement and emits up to 15 percent fewer CO2 emissions to the environment.
Direct injection coupled with turbocharging allows for the downsizing of engines that deliver improved torque and performance. A small 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine has the capability of producing more torque than a larger 4-cylinder engine – nearly an entire liter larger in displacement – with better fuel efficiency.
The real-world fuel economy benefit is consistent no matter the drive cycle, meaning the engine is efficient in the city as well as on the highway – unlike hybrids, which are most efficient in stop-and-go traffic. In addition, customers who tow and haul – and have long turned to more expensive diesel powertrains for their superior towing capabilities – can find the engine performance they need from an EcoBoost powertrain.
EcoBoost – combined with multi-speed transmissions, advanced electric power steering, weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements – is part of Ford Motor Company's strategy to deliver sustainable, quality vehicles that customers want and value. Additional hybrid offerings and diesel engines are planned for light-duty vehicles.
Longer term, Ford plans to remain aggressive in the development of plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles.
"We know that what will make the biggest difference is applying the right technology on volume vehicles that customers really want and value and can afford," said Kuzak. "EcoBoost puts an affordable technology within reach for millions of customers, and Ford's systems approach adds up to a big idea that differentiates Ford's sustainability strategy in the market."
Explorer America – A Sustainable Showcase
To help explain its vehicle sustainability strategy, Ford has created the Explorer America concept for the 2008 North American International Auto Show.
The Explorer America concept delivers an approximately 20 to 30 percent fuel-economy improvement – depending on engine selection – while providing room for six and their gear, along with moderate towing and off-roading capabilities.
The concept aims to highlight for customers and auto show attendees a number of innovations tied to Ford's systems approach, including:
A powertrain lineup that includes a 4-cylinder 2-liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque or, as a premium engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 delivering about 340 hp. Depending on engine selection, fuel-efficiency will improve by 20 to 30 percent versus today's V-6 Explorer
Migration from current body-on-frame to unibody construction, reducing weight and delivering superior driving dynamics
A fuel-efficient 6-speed transmission with auto shift control, allowing the driver to select and hold a lower gear with just the turn of a dial when conditions warrant it
A weight reduction of 150 pounds for the V-6 version thanks to its downsized – yet superior performing – engine, as well as more lightweight materials, suspension and chassis components
Fuel-saving electric power assisted steering (EPAS) and other engine actions that deliver a fuel savings benefit of about 5 percent. Between 80 to 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will have EPAS by 2012
Aerodynamic and other parasitic improvements that add up to a 5 percent fuel economy gain
The production model of the Explorer changed the landscape when it arrived on the scene in 1990 as a 1991 model, delivering an experience as unique as the owners who would eventually shape the design of the Explorer America concept.
Today's Explorer leads the mid-size SUV segment in sales. Since its introduction 18 years ago, Explorer has sold more than 6.5 million vehicles.
For 2008, Explorer adds several new features, including Ford's award-winning SYNC system that it developed with Microsoft. SYNC connects people and their favorite portable devices while in the vehicle, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. In addition, Explorer receives Ford's EasyFuel capless refueling system, which is fitted as standard and new available 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.
Ford Explorer received 5-star ratings in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's frontal and side-impact crash tests for the second year in a row. Explorer comes standard with six air bags, including front seat and side-curtain air bags and AdvanceTrac with class-exclusive Roll Stability Control, an electronic stability enhancement system that actually measures what other manufacturers' systems ignore or can only estimate.