Ford Powertrain Commitment

Here’s a somewhat startling statistic cited by Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development: So far this year, 49% of the company’s retail sales have been for vehicles with four-cylinder engines.

Here’s a somewhat startling statistic cited by Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development: So far this year, 49% of the company’s retail sales have been for vehicles with four-cylinder engines.

Another remarkable data point, this from Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of Global Powertrain Engineering: Last month (May 2011 for those of you in the future), 41% of the F-150 pickups sold in the U.S. were equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. Yes, F-150s with something other than a V8 under the hood. Of course, you can’t lose sight of the fact that the EcoBoost in question puts out 365 hp at 5,000 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm, with up to 90% of the peak torque available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm on regular fuel, can tow 11,300 lb., and gets 20+ highway mpgs.

2

3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost for the F-150.  Ford also offers 2.0-liter and 1.6-liter I4 EcoBoost engines.

The point is, fuel efficiency is critical across the board, and Ford is putting a considerable amount of commitment into improving it across its lineup.

As in announcing the development of:

· A 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine

· An eight-speed automatic transmission

· A hybrid transmission

In all cases, these are in-house developments.

When asked why Ford didn’t opt for having suppliers do the development and engineering, Kuzak says that the “most important” aspect of a vehicle’s performance and fuel economy is the powertrain, and consequently a key attribute of the brand’s character, so it is something they want to have control of.

Consider the hybrid transmission, which is going into production in the Van Dyke Transmission Plant this fall: currently it is being sourced from Aisin, which builds it in a factory in Japan. The replacement is all-Ford. It is an electronic continuously variable transmission and is said to provide “improved performance over the current unit,” and the current unit contributes to the Fusion Hybrid getting 41 mpg and the ability to reach 47 mph on electricity alone.

The eight-speed automatic, according to Bakaj, will provide a fuel economy gain on the order of 2 to 6% thanks, in large part, to the use of a wider gear spread, which means that the transmission will be in the most appropriate gear for the conditions more often. It will feature what he says is “the industry’s first torque input sensor.” That, then, precisely controls actuators that control the hydraulic pressure to the clutch.

Another feature of the eight-speed is that they’re integrating the actuators into the transmission case rather than having an actuator assembly attached to the case.

And on the subject of integration, the three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will feature an exhaust manifold cast into the cylinder head. This provides a number of benefits, including reducing the temperature of the exhaust gases such that the engine can consequently run in a wider rpm band thanks to the ability to have a more optimum fuel-to-air ratio. It also, Bakaj says, eliminates parts that are needed when the exhaust manifold is bolted in place. That part count reduction reduces the weight of the engine by about 2 lb.

The engine also features a spilt cooing system that warms the cylinder block faster than the cylinder head. The benefit of this is that it more quickly raises the temperature of the engine oil, which helps engine performance.

And while historically crankshafts are centered with the pistons, the crank in the 1.0-liter EcoBoost is offset. The benefit of this, Bakaj explains, is that it reduces piston friction on the order of 3 to 5%, which, in turn, can improve fuel economy by as much as 2%.

And like other EcoBoosts, the 1.0-liter engine features turbocharging, direct injection, and twin-independent variable camshaft timing.

This focus on smaller engines and greater fuel efficiency leads us to wonder: What about the future of the V8? Kuzak says that the V8 still has a future—“For Super Dutys and Mustangs,” he says, adding, “but they’ll be getting better fuel efficiency, too.”