At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) here in Detroit, Ford Motor Co. rolled out a family of turbo-charged engines capable of boosting performance and fuel efficiency.
Known as EcoBoost, the new engine line could see use on as many as half a million Ford vehicles. The giant automaker claims the new design will boost fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent in its vehicles. Moreover, Ford engineers at the show here said smaller EcoBoost engines will be capable of replacing larger predecessors.
“Now we can use a V6 where we would have used a V8, and a four-cylinder instead of a V6,” said Dan Kapp, director of powertrain research and advanced engineering for Ford.
Kapp stated that a 3.5-liter EcoBoost will crank out 340 lb-ft of torque, the same as one of the company’s V8s already in use. It also yields a 2-mpg fuel-economy advantage over the V8.
“The brilliance of it is that you get all that torque, all the way down to the 1,500-rpm range,” Kapp said. “It has this very flat torque curve that gives you better performance.”
Ford engineers achieved these improvements by combining turbo-charging with gasoline direct injection. Turbo-charging, in which heat energy from the exhaust is used to spin a turbine, has long been a traditional method for improving engine output in automobiles, but has often been linked to a “turbo-lag” phenomenon that causes engines to not perform as well at lower rpms. By simultaneously injecting gasoline directly into the engine’s combustion chamber, however, Ford engineers were able to vastly reduce turbolag. As a result, the new engine family can increase flow to the turbine, even at lower engine revolutions.
“It allows us to reduce engine displacement by as much as 30 to 40 percent,” Kapp said.
Ford plans to introduce the new engine concept in the 2009 Lincoln MKS.
Unlike many new automotive engine families, which require massive re-tooling of engine transfer lines, EcoBoost also offers the advantage of not requiring significant changes in its production plants. That’s important for Ford, because building a new engine production line from scratch can cost as much as $400 million by some estimates.
“We can deploy this technology onto the existing engine architectures, so we don’t have to make a massive investment in re-tooling of the production lines,” Kapp said.