What is an Ecoboost engine?
“How do you tell people that you’re going to sell them a smaller displacement engine for more money?” ~ Sue Cischke, Ford‘s vice president for Sustainability, Environment, and Safety Engineering, about the ecoboost engine.
Ninety-eight percent of America’s cars run on gasoline. While there is the desire to move to other fuels and technologies that have not happened and won’t happen in great numbers before 2012. Gasoline-powered vehicles will be the number one seller for years to come. The race to get more miles per gallon out of the gasoline-powered vehicle is on.
You will start seeing a form of Ecoboost in all manufacturers, especially as we get closer to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of 2016. People don’t want to give up their performance for fuel economy. They like the idea of more miles per gallon, just not at the cost of high performance with great torque.
Ford is not the first manufacturer to create what they are calling Ecoboost. They are the first manufacturer to say they will put Ecoboost in ninety percent of their vehicles. Ford says that by 2013 they will have Ecoboost in 1.3 million vehicles.
So, what is Ecoboost?
Traditionally, gasoline has been mixed with the incoming air in the inlet port to combust fuel and make your car run. That method works, but it’s not a very precise delivery of fuel. Ecoboost takes highly pressurized fuel and directly injects that fuel into the combustion chamber of each cylinder. It is the direct injection of fuel into the cylinders that gives you better fuel “eco”-nomy.
You wouldn’t get the high performance with just that part. Ford has incorporated turbo power with gas direct injection. A by-product of your engine is heat and exhaust. Ford takes that energy from the engine’s exhaust and uses it to rotate a turbine wheel. Think of the turbine wheel as going around and around and squeezing air. That pressurized air “boosts” the engine.
When you combine the gas direct injection with the turbo power you get Eco-boost. You can also downsize the engine when you turbo power the engine. So, if you use a V-6 engine, you will get the performance of a V-8.
The key to this technology is using the right amount of air and fuel for the amount of performance you need. You’re only going to need V-8 performance when you’re asking for high performance from that vehicle. If you use less air and fuel you will get better miles per gallon.
Brett Hinds is the advanced engine design and development manager for Ford Motor Co. Hinds says that we can look forward to a combination of technologies such as the Ford Fusion hybrid Ecoboost.
Ford versus Chevrolet Chevy
Hinds explained the process with examples, using V-8 competitors.
Let’s use the Ford Flex as an example:
3.5 liter V-6 Duratec all-wheel drive
262 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
248 ft-lbs. of torque @ 4,500 rpm
16 mpg city/22 hwy
Compare the Ford Flex V-6 Eco-boost with the chevy Tahoe V-8 for horsepower
5.3 liter V-8 front-wheel drive
320 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
340 ft-lbs. of torque @ 4,200 rpm
14 mpg city/20 hwy
Now compare the Ford Flex V-6 Ecoboost with the Chevy Tahoe hybrid V-8 for mileage
Chevy Tahoe hybrid
6.0 liter V-8
332 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
367 ft-lbs of torque @ 4,100 rpm
20 mpg city/20 hwy
The Ford Flex EcoBoost is $3,000 more than the regular Ford Flex all-wheel drive. Yet, it is $3,000 less than a V-8 truck and gets better horsepower and better miles per gallon.
If you want to compare a vehicle that gets around the same horsepower and miles per gallon you have to go up to the Chevy Tahoe hybrid. That will cost you an extra $16,000!
In many countries vehicles are taxed on the engine displacement and the amount of CO2 they put out. As Ford brings the Ecoboost to the world Ford will fare better in sales globally.
Pros of ecoboost
smaller displacement engine
more miles per gallon than a regular internal combustion engine the same size.
There is one big boost that Ecoboost gives that cylinder deactivation doesn’t: under towing conditions. Hinds points out that when you’re towing cylinder deactivation kicks off where Ecoboost continues to work. One of the biggest attributes of diesel is the magnificent torque it brings. This could replace diesel vehicles in the torque advantage.
Cons of ecoboost
In order to get the horsepower, Ford is claiming as “peak performance” you need to use premium gasoline. The Chevy Tahoe runs on regular gasoline. Also, the Ford Flex is a crossover, while the Chevy Tahoe is a truck-based SUV.