What gets more than 45 miles to the gallon and can outrun a Hummer? It’s not a hybrid, and it’s not a fantasy. It’s Ford’s new three cylinder engine that will be on American roads next year. Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine will provide “up to 20 percent better fuel economy without sacrificing the power that drivers want.”
Ford has said that one of its small cars will feature a 2013 model with a 1.0 Liter, three-cylinder engine. Ford has not said which model it would be, though many suggest it will be a Ford Focus model, since Ford already made test models of the car for automobile writers to test drive.
“In the European-spec Focus I drove, the I-3 is good for 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque; for comparison, our North American-market Focus uses a 160-hp, 147-lb-ft 2.0-liter I-4,” wrote Donny Nordlicht for Automobile Magazine.
NPR reports that Ford is expected to charge about $1,000 more for the three-cylinder model than the four cylinder version.
“The big experiment is, will Americans pay more money for a smaller motor if they’re getting better fuel economy out of it?” says car industry analyst Aaron Bragman of IHS Automotive.
Ford is not the first American car maker to try to put a three-cylinder vehicle on the road. From 1989 to 1997, General Motors and Suzuki collaborated to produce the Geo Metro. The Geo Metro was amazing fuel efficient, getting around 50 miles per gallon (mpg). However, the car offered very little in the way of power. It produced around 55 horsepower which is only three times as powerful as a lawnmower.
Ford has been using the EcoBoost technology in larger engines for several years. The engine was first mentioned back in 2009 under the code name “Bobcat”, where the technology was being used to make trucks more diesel-like while still using gas. By May 2009, four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines with EcoBoost technology were being produced in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, the technology has been used on models like the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO, the 2011 Ford F-150, and the 2013 Ford Escape.
Design elements such as a turbocharger that can spool up to 250,000 revolutions per minute, twin variable camshafts, and an exhaust manifold that is cast into the cylinder head, make the three-cylinder car lighter and more powerful.
The failure of the Geo Metro has led to a reticence among car makers to produce three cylinder cars for the US. However, increases in government fuel economy requirements, the good PR from producing eco-friendly products, and consumer choices based on the high price of gas has led Ford to think now is the time to bring the three-cylinder EcoBoost engine to the US.
Ford has already begun selling three-cylinder engines in Europe, where smaller cars with high fuel economy are the norm. Earlier this year, Ford released the B-Max and the C-Max in European markets. The mini vans boasted 59 mpg while still producing 123 horsepower.
Chairman and CEO of Ford Europe, Stephen Odell, said, “The B-MAX combines an exciting, innovative design with features that only previously have been found in bigger cars. It’s a brand new car that responds to the needs of an increasing number of customers who want more from their small cars.”
Ford 3 cylinder Ecoboost Engine
Ford’s innovative new three cylinder 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine. Small, efficient, powerful. Awarded “International Engine of the Year” 2012.
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