Oct 5, 2011

New Standards, New Design!

Downshifting Ford's three-cylinder engine is expectedto debut in 2012 or 2013 in the Fiesta hatchback Ford Motors

Carmakers have spent the past few years aggressively downsizing engines throughout their lineups to meet increasingly tight fuel-economy regulations. But with the sole exception of the three-cylinder Smart Fortwo, four cylinders is as low as carmakers have expected Americans to go. Three-cylinders are common in Europe but have been scorned in the U.S., where they're tainted by association with claptrap cars like the mousy Geo Metro. Now, with fuel-economy standards set to rise as high as 56.2 mph by 2025, Ford is planning to bring the three-cylinder to the American mainstream.

Ford's 1.0-liter engine,the latest in the company's cylinder slashing EcoBoost series, will be smaller than the average Harley motor, but with the help of turbocharging and direct injection, it should match the horsepower and torque of a typical 1.6-liter four-cylinder. For an easy comparison, Ford's 2011 Fiesta hatchback wrings 119 horsepower and 40 highway mpg from its 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Drop a turbocharged 1.0-liter in a similar-size car, and you can expect 45 or 46 mpg-within spitting distance of the most frugal hybrids. Brett Hinds, a Ford engine-design manager, says the forthcoming three-cylinder will produce more than 100 horsepower per liter, blowing past a longtime engine-efficiency benchmark.

Such efficiency is the result of many small technical victories. Unlike conventional engines, the new EcoBoost will use an offset crankshaft, which reduces friction and puts more energy into creating motion and loses less to heat. A split-cooling system warms the engine block quickly, making it easier for the engine to pump cold, thick oil, thereby using 1 to 2 percent less fuel. Higher-quality aluminum alloy in the exhaust manifold helps to trim 11 pounds from the engine. And unlike some three-cylinder engines, which require an energysapping balance shaft to counter shake and rattle, Ford says the EcoBoost is inherently balanced.

Ford has withheld most details, but it has said that the engine will eventually replace four-cylinders in millions of small models around the world. Expect other carmakers to follow suit.


  1. Very innovative. Efficent. Looking to become the new standard. Perception is part of the battle. They're off to a good start. Let's hear it for Ford.

  2. Well, the Fiesta looks better than the ones you used to see on the road -- the ones that looked like they were made of tin.

  3. And yet, the F150 will still outsell all the rest of Ford's models put together.

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  5. Good for Ford. I was a GM man most of my life, but I have gained a new respect for Ford since this recession.

    Someone will eventually use the 3 cy. diesel I think.

  6. I am with Paul (how can I call you when you won't give me your number!) on this. By setting the standards so far ahead in the future, they are planning the obsolescence of these new fuel efficient cars... by 2025, there may be a need for cars that get far better mileage and contribute less to the degradation in the environment... after all, the emerging world markets in under developed and under education countries don't really care all that much about fuel emission when they can afford a luxury like an automobile...

  7. Terrific nugget Ken. I want to see less talk and marketing about their increased efficiency and and more broad development and dispersion to large portions of our societies. Talk won't do us any good and small scale adoption won't either.


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