Posts Tagged ‘EcoBoost’

Ford of Canada at the Princes gates in Toronto

On May 31st Ford of Canada was at the Allstream Centre in downtown Toronto to offer information and test drives for the local auto press with their latest offerings of electric and fuel efficient vehicles. The Power of Choice Tour (going for the rock star image?) in Toronto was one of eight tour stops to take place across Canada through April and May; Toronto was the final stop on the tour.

Ford presented a variety of eco-friendly engine options; from fully electric and plug-in hybrid, hybrid, to EcoBoost engines. Vehicles available for very brief trips around part of the perimeter of the CNE grounds included the Ford Focus BEV, the all new 2013 Escape , the 2012 Fusion Hybrid and on display in the foyer area of the Allstream Centre, the Aston Martin-looking 2013 Fusion – some spill over family DNA at play here?

The Aston Martin-looking pre-production 2013 Ford Fusion

While many manufacturers are openly flirting with all-electric and electric/hybrid technology, do these vehicles ever really stand a chance in the highly competitive automotive world? The EV Ford Focus is a sharp, sub-compact vehicle that looks good, feels pretty good and for commuters that know they will never exceed a daily charge range, may be one of the preferred choices in EVs today. But realistically, without a suitable and far-reaching infrastructure (ubiquitous charging stations) in the short and long term, do EVs truly stand a chance?

Of course, manufacturers have also placed a few of their eggs in the hybrid basket and here Ford is certainly not the exception. Their respective offerings makes sense, mostly have considerable curb appeal and come with an eco-feel-good aura already initiated.

But listen to what Ford says of their truck engines with EcoBoost. More economical motors that provide considerably superior mileage than their once-preferred and oft revered engine of choice, the V8 – without a major sacrifice in power – specifically, torque. In fact, in the F150 line (46 years as the top selling vehicle in Canada – and counting), demand has been so strong this past year that keeping up to demand for the V6 with EcoBoost has been a daunting yet pleasant challenge. And now, Ford’s category leader, the Escape is now available with an EcoBoost engine. But here, the Ford story veers ever so slightly; EcoBoost in a four cylinder engine! An optional 1.6-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four with 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque is available. Coupled with self-closing grille shutters (they open for breathing at low speeds and close to reduce drag at higher speeds), the 1.6-litre engine is estimated by Ford to return 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway – and on regular fuel.

The all new Ford Escape on the road in Toronto

As many of us have suspected, but Ford has now begun to underline, does the future of the automotive industry lie with the internal combustion engine (ICE) – the once revered technological marvel that brought us all to this point?

Perhaps. Ford anticipates making EcoBoost available in many of their product offerings over the next few years. Whether driven by gasoline or diesel fuel, as another manufacturer once said, so prophetically many years ago… tried, tested and true.

Will, indeed ICE be the industry’s ‘saviour’ – even if – or as gasoline prices and demand continues to rise?

Time alone will tell. Meanwhile, a canny manufacturer such as Ford, appears to have all bases pretty well covered.

In this part of the country, we love our trucks.  ½ ton pick ups and up. Some use them as a primary vehicle, some for work. Some drive them on weekends. Some drive them day in, day out. In rural Canada, trucks are king. No question.

For the most part and to this point, to get the job done, owners traditionally looked to growling V8 monsters (gas or diesel-fuelled), capable of performing just about every task thrown in its 4 x 4 or 4 x 2 path. There was no task too big, no task too small for the venerable workhorse.

In Canada, pick up truck sales consistently lead the way for vehicles purchased, month over month. As a matter of fact, the top-selling pick up in this country for 45 years now is the Ford F-150 series, a pick up that comes in about as many variations as Baskin Robbins has flavours.

As popular as the F-150 pick up might be, the Ford Motor company has not sat back complacently and watched the orders come in, month in, month out.

Well, they have made note of the orders, but a few years back, Ford, like many other manufacturers out there began to realize that the salad days of big honking, fuel guzzling stump-pulling trucks was perhaps nearing an end. People were finally starting to pay attention and made demands on Detroit and Canada’s Big 3 and even popular import manufacturers. Greater fuel efficiency was required. But for trucks, the message was even clearer. Improve the efficiency of the motors to reduce wear and tear on wallets, but don’t even think about sacrificing power and raw, brute strength.

Those that work the land or haul loads of lumber and equipment from job site to job site have high, some might argue unrealistic expectations when it comes to their trucks. But now, especially with the high cost of fuel, they want everything they ever had when they turned on their pick up’s engine. And more. Saving money has never been more important – without sacrificing raw power.

A tall order, and over the past few years, there have been many close calls from all the major manufacturers. Even some of the imports were getting it right – to a point. As much as there may be loyalty to North American trucks, if off shore manufacturers presented a diesel-fuelled  option, there would be many folks tipping their hats, rubbing their chins and saying, “Show me!”

Now it seems that the engineers at Ford may well have come up with a winning formula with the introduction of the 2011 F-150 with EcoBoost.

EcoBoost is a name that Ford has pinned on one or two engines over the past couple of years, especially with the SHO passenger vehicle and the large family-oriented Flex SUV. So what exactly is this EcoBoost they’re almost bragging about? Well succinctly, EcoBoost is a family of turbocharged and direct injected six-cylinder (and four-cylinder) gasoline engines built by the Ford Motor Company. Engines equipped with EcoBoost technology are designed to deliver power and torque consistent with larger displacement, naturally aspirated engines while achieving approximately 20% better fuel efficiency and 15% reduced greenhouse emissions. Imagine that; an eco-oriented pick up! Simply put, relative to the power output and fuel efficiency of hybrid and even diesel technologies, Ford sees EcoBoost as an affordable and versatile alternative and intends on using it extensively in more future vehicle applications – hence the F-150.

This truck is a definite game-changer in the world of pick ups. The leopard has managed to change its spots. Really. Under the hood of this venerable pick up is an all new 3.5L V6 with the aforementioned EcoBoost. Will this V6 convince die hard V8 believers? If you look strictly at the numbers, there is little doubt. This engine is a twin-turbo, DOHC – practically unheard of in the truck world. And it runs on regular, readily available unleaded gasoline. Fuel economy is also impressive – 12.9l/100km city and 9.0l/100km highway. Pretty darn respectable for a truck. But what’s next makes it stand out from the pack. This blown V6 motor generates 365hp and 465lb.-ft. torque way down low in the rev range – putting it in the same class as similar trucks with massive V8 engines – but with respectable fuel economy. In fact, fuel consumption even for this twin turbo engine, is reduced by 20 per cent. Even when compared to the F-150 Platinum with a 411hp 6.2L V8, the Ford F-150 V6 with EcoBoost shares a towing capacity at an axle-ripping 11,300lbs and 3,060lbs payload, respectively. That’s right. V8 performance in a V6 package. Some observers have stated for the record that this truck drives more like a turbo-diesel, providing loads of low-end ‘grunt’ with what would appear to be little effort.

For the first three months of this year, Ford sold 20,000 trucks in Canada. By comparison, Honda, manufacturers of the top selling passenger car in Canada for 13 years running, rang up sales of 12,000 units.

It remains to be seen if this new dog can teach some old dogs a trick or two. Ford is expecting big things from this truck. Convincing die-hard ‘big-must-be-better’ customers to consider switching will tell the story. This is a serious contender with a considerable pedigree that cannot nor should not be denied. To appease some skeptics, engineers may have to tweak the exhaust systems, allowing the vehicle to actually ‘sound’ like it’s exerting itself. After all, that’s what everyone is used to. Not this good looking, performance-oriented street or off-road mainstay.

Ford F-150 V6 with EcoBoost doing a day's work