The Future of Ford's EcoBoost Engine

Ford Working On Improvements to EcoBoost

Ford’s new twin-turbo gasoline direct-injection EcoBoost engines pack plenty of punch for their size. The 2010 Ford Flex with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 is rated at 355 hp and 350 pounds-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 35% horsepower and 41% more torque than the Flex’s standard 3.5-liter V-6, while returning the same 16/22 mpg city/highway gas mileage (all-wheel drive model). It's also available in the new Ford Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS sedan and upcoming MKT crossover.

Brett Hinds, Ford’s advance engine design and development manager, said it will only get better from here.

“The [Flex’s] EcoBoost [engine] is the foundation for us,” Hinds said. “It’s a six-cylinder engine that performs like an eight-cylinder, but we’re looking at many ways to make EcoBoost even more efficient so it can meet future fuel economy and CO2 standards.”

Here are three improvements to EcoBoost that Hinds said Ford is studying:

  • Ethanol compatibility: Today’s EcoBoost engines can’t use E85, which has several properties that make it better to use in an EcoBoost engine than in a conventional non-turbo engine. Ethanol has a higher octane and heat-of-vaporization point than gasoline, meaning it combusts at a higher temperature and with greater force (higher compression) than gasoline, while also having a greater capacity to cool the fuel/air mix in the cylinder before combustion. This allows a larger charge to be drawn into the cylinder before ignition.

    What it means: An EcoBoost engine running on E85 could produce the same power as the Flex’s 3.5-liter V-6 but with even smaller displacement. This could also improve E85 fuel economy, which is typically less on a per-gallon basis than a gallon of gasoline because of E85's lower energy content.
  • Start-stop: Without changing the engine, EcoBoost could share start-stop technology originally developed for hybrid vehicles. Start-stop would automatically shut the engine down when the vehicle is stopped, running accessories like the radio and air conditioning off an upgraded starter motor and bigger battery. Hit the gas pedal, and the EcoBoost engine would fire right back up.

    What it means: Idling burns fuel and emits CO2 without helping you reach your destination. Start-stop would reduce both.
  • Homogeneous charge compression ignition: The only thing larger than HCCI’s spelled-out name is the technical challenge of making it work in a gas engine. HCCI enables a normally spark-ignited gasoline engine to operate similar to a compression-ignited diesel engine, but only in certain driving conditions.

    What it means: Shifting on the fly from spark to compression ignition could yield another 10% to 15% improvement in fuel economy.
By Mike Levine | July 15, 2009 | Comments (18)

Comments 

Solid. Another sign that Ford is on the ball.

Definitely looking forward to these EcoBoost cars. (Especially if they don't negate the use of the old manual boost controller.)

The base Flex is rated at 17/24 mpg.

@Eric Tingwall: Good eye.

I quoted the EPA's published FE figures for the all-wheel-drive Flex, which lists 16/22 mpg city/highway for both the standard and EcoBoost engines.

The EPA's front-wheel-drive Flex figures (17/24) only rate the naturally aspirated 3.5-L V-6.

e

is it just me or do some of the V8s in the new era of muscle cars (Challenger, Charger, Mustang, Camaro, G8, etc) have just as good if not better mpg than this engine? I wonder what it's rating will be in a new taurus...

Jay

I think this Ecoboost engine is great but it defeats the "image" of efficency when its heavier and uses more fuel than a Honda Pilot.

I'd just like to see Ecoboost in a more "eco" environment.

As in, small displacement 4 cylinders that can either bring the power of a larger 4 with less fuel, or deliver the power of a 6 with the economy of a larger 4.

I've read Ford's got a few ideas (1.6/1.8/2.0/2.5) in mind that are ripe for Ecoboosting.

J

A little research yielded this:
1998 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo used a 3.0L Twin Turbo Engine gives 320 hp and 315 lb-ft, while getting 16/21 mpg on the Auto and 15/22 mpg on the Manual.
The non-turbo version gives 225 hp and 214 lb-ft, while getting 17/22 mpg on Auto only.
The improvement of horsepower was 42.22% and torque was improved by 47.20%
Fuel economy was not much difference.
Why did Ford take so long to reach this?
Emission standard changed?
Safety mandatory?
The same technology has been here more than 10 years!

@J: Not quite.

The Supra used port fuel injection, not direct injection like EcoBoost. DI provides a cleaner burn that helps both fuel economy and emissions.

The two-seater Supra had a curb weight of about 3,400-pounds. The seven passenger Flex has a curb weight of 4,800 pounds.

The Supra could do 0 to 60 in about 5.0 seconds. The Flex can do it in about 7.5 seconds.

I'd say that's pretty good progress in a decade.

George

Will the new 2.5 I4 have Ecoboost, seeing as Mazda carried over the 2.3 turbo/direct injection in the new Mazda3?

E85 Ecoboost 3.0 V6 to replace 3.5? seeing as the criminal cap & trade was passed [read by anyone?]

If Ford already artificially caps torque to 350ft-lbs to protect the transmission, what good would E85 be?
Ford could extend the torque 'plateau' from 5250rpm all the way to 6000rpm, 400hp@6000rpm.
But that would be of little use to the average person.

@George: I'm going to guess that other EcoBoost applications, like the upcoming F-150 w/EB, will not be torque limited to protect the transmission.

Dan

Mike-
I think J's comment was how the Supra maintained the same fuel economy while boosting power ~40%, not the absolute fuel economy numbers.
But you're right, the major difference is the fuel economy achieved. It isn't that hard to improve power with a turbo charger while maintaining fuel efficiency. It is all simply in how you tune the thing. If you use a leaner fuel mixture, you can get more power with the same amount of fuel. Another trick is to have a huge turbo lag, so the darn thing never does anything.
I'm not sure how the turbo lag on the new Flex compares with the old turbo Supra having driven neither, but the major technological improvement of the Flex over the old Supra is the addition of direct injection to a turbo charged motor. Not an easy task, which is evidenced by the fact that no one has done it until now. This addition is why a 300+ hp motor in a 4000lbs+ vehicle can still turn 20+ mpg. This isn't a 10 year old technology that Ford is just now getting to, it truly is a cutting edge technology that Ford is pioneering. I'm sure it's been done in concept cars, etc., but no one has developed a system reliable enough to put their warranty on it and, therefore, but their money where their mouth is.
Very exciting new technology. I look forward to seeing it in action.

Doug G

-Dan

Mazda has a 2.3 liter direct injection turbo four cylinder, previously used in Mazdaspeed 6, Mazdaspeed 3, and the CX-7.

Due to close relations between mazda/ford I imagine it's alot of the same technology that is going into the eco-boost being cooperatively shared.

@Dan: Great points. I'd say turbo lag is on the low end. I'm writing the first drive review now and at wide open throttle the engine sat there for ~1.5 seconds before major boost kicked in. Having driven diesels for years, the Flex turbo lag is way less than those motors. It's got a deep reservoir of torque. Excellent for a family hauler.

George

I could see an F-150 with ecoboost 3.5, with E85 compatibility.
Say 350hp 400ft-lbs on E85 & 325hp 350ft-lbs on regular.

For the immediate future, rather than ecoboost, Ford should upgrade its pickup trucks to ZF's 8 speed automatic.
8hp90 for Superduty series
8hp70 for F-150
8hp45 for F-100 (still in the works?)
8hp30 (when finished) for the Ranger-or what ever mini-pickup Ford intends to sell.

cody

C&D did a pretty good article that shows that putting smaller turbo engines into cars does not necessarily result in better fuel economy. they actually have some side-by-side comparisons.

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q3/engine_displacement_downsizing-feature

burt

Rather than adapting the eco-boost to E85 we we would be better off scrapping ethanol subsidies altogether. Ethanol manufacturing damages the environment, cost us tax revenues and really does nothing for anyone but a small group of farming related industries.

JM

here's the scoop on C&D's comparison.


328i V. A4 2.0T Quattro
in the latest comparison test where C&D got 25 mpg with their 328i, it was a RWD, manual. the A4 is an AWD auto. there is going to be a fuel economy gap there, so comparing the two cars is pointless. the only way to truly compare them for fuel economy would be to get a stripper A4 with FWD and a manual, or load up a 328 so that it had AWD and an auto. usually though, adding AWD/4WD will take away 2 mpg and add around 1 second to the 0-60 time, and an auto will take 2 mpg and add a bit of time as well.

Murano V. CX7
I can see the Murano getting better fuel economy because the CX7 us4es a smaller engine with a big turbo output, and is pretty much the same weight as the Nissan. the CX7 has so much trouble with fuel economy because there is so much lag that it was like the original 2.3L I4 pulling the super heavy vehicle around. the Murano also had a CVT transmission, which can really help fuel economy.

S550 v. 750Li
the fuel economy difference is attributed to the fact that the S550 has a 7 speed auto and the 750Li has a 6 speed. 2010's 8-speed will put the 750Li in the lead.

if C&D wants to make such accusations that naturally aspirated cars get better fuel economy, then they need to compare vehicles that are at least comparable in all other aspects than the engine displacement and aspiration method. this is geared mainly towards the A4 and 328i, which results have no bearing at all because the vehicles are just too different.

Cadillac's innovative design and precision manufacturing it jumped to the head of the pack as a luxury vehicle from the beginning. Named after the French explorer sieur de Cadillac, who also founded Detroit Michigan. Detroit went on to become one of the top automobile manufacturing areas in the world. Cadillac automobiles became a household world and still means excellence in the new millennium.

Thanks

Cadillac parts

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