Ford: Diesels Point Way to the Future

By Mark Williams

Ford made quite a bit of news at the 2010 SAE World Congress this week in Detroit when it said that many of its upcoming technological advances in smaller gas engines came about by trying to make them more like traditional diesels.

Technologies such as direct injection, turbocharging, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), high-pressure injection and higher compression ratios are just a few of the overlapping features Ford will use in its new breed of smaller EcoBoost gasoline engines. Ford plans to introduce a V-6 EcoBoost engine into the F-150 lineup — which currently only offers less efficient and more powerful V-8s — by the fourth quarter of this year, but it has not released any power or fuel economy details.

Our guess is Ford will include the new EcoBoost motor along with a host of other weight-saving and fuel-efficient technologies, ensuring that this new option package will offer the highest gas mileage for any full-size pickup. But we’ll have to wait and see.

One of the most encouraging technologies not currently used in the EcoBoost engine but being seriously considered is a cooled EGR that could improve overall efficiency and reduce the tendency for an engine to knock.

The way it works is pretty simple: Gases are cooled in a heat exchanger before being pumped back into the cylinders, where the combustion temperatures will be lowered. Lower combustion temperatures mean more dense air and a bigger bang.

So far, this type of diesel technology works best with smaller engines, but there’s no telling where this melding of diesel and gas technologies might lead.

“When it comes to smaller-displacement engines, EcoBoost is the perfect solution for most consumers,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford’s vice president of powertrain engineering. “They get outstanding fuel economy and low-end torque.”

Although these advancements seem encouraging, they don’t come without costs. High-pressure common-rail systems are expensive to use, even if they don’t run at the extremely high pressures that the Power Stroke, Cummins or Duramax do.

“An EcoBoost engine has much higher operating temperatures than a diesel engine ... and many parts (on our current engines) had to be upgraded to special metals and alloys that hold up to that environment,” said Brett Hinds, manager of Ford’s advanced engine design. “Our exhaust manifolds, for example, are made of stainless steel, and the turbochargers (on all our EcoBoost engines) are made from high-temperature cast-iron alloy.”

Bob Fascetti, director of large gas and diesel engine engineering, believes the technology will expand. “We’re introducing about 30 powertrains in the next couple of years to power everything from small cars to large pickup trucks. Our experience with a wide range of engines allows us to take the best solutions and apply them to many platforms, ultimately benefiting our customers,” he said.

It sounds like if Ford doesn’t eventually put a small diesel in the F-150 soon, it will at least have an EcoBoost gas engine with many of the same technologies.


I think there are 2 main advantages to the EB engine.
1. Versatility - it can fit a wide range of applications based on engine tune ie.F150, Flex, Lincoln, Taurus, Ranger,ect. That will drop engine costs as it can be used in many vehicles.
2. Fuel economy - at full load and full turbo boost I doubt that it can achieve significantly better fuel economy than a comparable V8, but at low to mid range power and boost it should be able to have significantly better fuel economy.
The computer can reduce fuel and turbo boost to the engine so it behaves more like a non-turbo engine when less power is needed. A small V6 is more fuel efficient than a bigger V8. A big V8 even with cylinder deactivation still has to move 4 big pistons and deal with all the associated friction/compression losses. Cylinder deactivation would be much more fuel efficient if engineers could make a V8 act like two V4 engines coupled together.
I would prefer a less complex vehicle but with all the emissions standards, and safety standards our vehicles are just going to get more and more complex. I doubt there is any way around that fact.

cdjrec - Don't count the Durango out? Why not? Per your post they are renaming it, redesigning, basing it off an old Dailmler era chassis and repowering it. Sounds like a success story to me. Curious as to where you got info on this and your comments on the Dakota as well. I have seen no mention of the Durango being reinvented and the last we saw of the Dakota it was going to be a unibody like the Rampage or Ridgeline before but it now appears to be slated to RIP.

Jordan - Have you actually towed near full tow rating with a short wheel base mid sized SUV? Power is not the issue. Stability is. Short wheelbase vehicles are not ideal tow vehicles for much axcept small utility trailers, pop ups and boats. Any thing that gets long, wide and has alot of frontal area (like a travel trailer) starts to get squirrelly.

@ Keith My 04 Hemi Durango pulls my holiday trailer just fine, same with my 92 V8 dakota. Weighs about 4000 lbs when loaded with our camping gear. Where are you getting your info on the new Durango? Based on an old chassis? Actually its going to be stretched version of the Grand Cherokee platform which is all new and developed jointly with Mercedes. Check for accurate info on up and coming news from Chrysler. Do your home work properly before responding.

Jordan - I would hope it tows 4,000lb loaded camper fine. It is rated for 8900lbs. Hook up to a 7,000lb camper and let us know how it goes. A Ridgeline is rated for 4,500-5,000lbs depending on frontal area. I have done my homework. You have been wrong more than right.

FWIW "New" chassis? Developed with Mercedes, i.e. Diamler? LOL You mean developed like 2-3 years ago when Diamler had an actual relationship with Chrysler. I don't see Chrysler as being eager to work with Diamler again anytime soon unless it is in keeping legacy items, like current trannies, chassis and engines until FIAT gets up to speed and pushes that stuff out the door to use CHrysler designed items or FIAT designed items. Most of their current product is legacy hold over from the merger. Even the car line up is slated to run on Diamler hand me down architecture until FIAT and Chrysler develop their own chassis's in a year or two. Per Allpar the chassis was already designed pre 2009. Don't get me wrong, the concept pics look nice and so does the new Grand Cherokee. I am curious to see how IFS and IRS go over withthe Jeep faithful though. The new PentaStar V6 also looks like a good engine. However to call these vehicles new is a bit off. They were developed 2-3 years ago and due to the issues with Diamler bailing, Cerberus, and bankruptcy, took this long to actually go into production.

While we keep jerking around, mb,audi,bmw,and vw are running diesels motors and getting great fule milage. In fact, ford have those festivas over in europe getting 50mpg. Not everyone wants to tow a boat or huge payload with a diesel. Some people just want the reliability and fuel milage associated with them.

Re Ford EGR problems I saw an add on Facebook they have a refit kit to replace the EGR . Look for Solutions D&D

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