Ford Making Aggressive Push With EcoBoost and Technologies Such as Ti-VCT for Improved Fuel Economy; Roadmap for Future Generations of EcoBoost Highlights Role as Company Strategy as Well as Product
|The next-generation of EcoBoost will seek to improve performance and fuel consumption through the use of technologies such as advanced boosting and cooled EGR. Click to enlarge.|
As part of an aggressive deployment strategy for improving fuel efficiency across its product line-up in the near-to medium-term, Ford will offer its first-generation turbocharged, gasoline direct-injection EcoBoost engines (earlier post) in 90% of its product lineup by 2013. Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing), Ford’s advanced multi-valve engine technology (earlier post), will be on 80% of its products by 2012, including EcoBoost and non-EcoBoost applications.
Ford views EcoBoost as a strategy as well as a product—one that will serve as a key element of Ford’s CO2 and fuel economy product strategy—said Dan Kapp, Director, Ford Powertrain Research and Advanced Engineering, during a briefing on the company’s fuel economy strategies in Dearborn. The development and deployment of current and future generations of EcoBoost and other technologies are not alternatives to electrification of the powertrain, Kapp said. The more efficient combustion engine technologies, with their enabling of downsizing, come in compatibly with hybridization, with hybridization and electrification playing a larger role over time.
Planning background. Several years back, Ford engaged in a modelling strategy to determine what it’s fleet fuel economy should be over time given a proportional contribution to achieving an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450 ppm, said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.
Ford planners concluded that the most impactful thing they could do in the short term was to leverage currently available technology. In the powertrain arenas, this indicated the broad deployment of technologies such as more advanced transmissions (e.g. 6-speed and dual clutch), but especially EcoBoost, Kapp said.
Wide-spread EcoBoost application will enable downsizing—moving from eight-cylinder engines to six, and from six to four, while maintaining or even improving performance. “As we go into the mid-term,” Kapp said, “we have the opportunity to weight reduce the vehicle, enabling additional downsizing.”
First-generation EcoBoost. The first thing you get with EcoBoost, Kapp said, is almost a doubling of the torque potential on a same displacement basis, thereby enabling the downsizing. EcoBoost in its first generation can deliver a 10-20% improvement in fuel consumption, Kapp said, based on a function of the reference point and how much downsizing is done.
It’s deployable on existing engines, it can take advantage of the assets we have... We can take the same basic technology and apply it to any number of the engines and vehicles, stair stepping down the engine displacements in almost any vehicle application.—Dan Kapp
First application of EcoBoost was in the form of a 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine in the 2010 MY Ford Taurus SHO and Flex as well as the Lincoln MKS luxury sedan. The next application will be offered as a 2.0L I4 engine in two power levels for worldwide vehicle programs (currently announced as SUVs and crossovers in North America, larger Ford vehicles in Europe, and on the Ford Falcon in Australia) before a further migration into a small 1.6L I4 initially for the C-MAX in European markets. An I3 architecture is also scheduled.
On average, nearly one in five buyers of the Taurus, Flex, Lincoln MKS and MKT have opted for EcoBoost since the engine lineup’s introduction in August, according to Ford.
Given its strategic role, there is “absolutely” an evolutionary path mapped out for EcoBoost, Kapp said.
Future generations of EcoBoost. While the current, first generation of EcoBoost combines basic direct injection and turbocharging technologies to enable downsizing, there are technologies that will continue to augment its capabilities, Kapp said. Broadly, these can be described as:
EcoBoost–Next Generation (CY 2014-2016). Currently under advanced development, this generation will provide increased BMEP and knock mitigation through the use of technologies such as advanced boosting, cooled EGR and the Miller cycle. The further downsized next-generation technologies can be very synergistic within hybrid applications.
EcoBoost–Advanced technologies (CY 2017+). Long-term EcoBoost solutions may include more advanced, multi-stage boost systems for higher BMEP capability over a wider range, and extended dilute combustion range. Various types of lean operation are also being investigated for improved BSFC.
EcoBoost-Advanced Technologies. Click to enlarge.
These systems will also need to deliver very low criteria pollutant levels (e.g., 100% SULEV), and will require developments in combustion management and aftertreatment technology.
The first step is that you have to break through the knock limitation, using things such as cooled EGR or even the characteristics of ethanol fuels, and then much further out, you start to push into some lean operating regime.
I think it is important to note that the engine technologies that complement EcoBoost sometimes aren’t the same that you would use on a larger, naturally aspirated engine. So this combustion mode that gets talked about as HCCI is something that as it has been developed really only works under very lightly loaded engine conditions.
But if you carry that to an EcoBoost, once you’ve downsized it, you don’t spend a lot of time at those lightly loaded conditions. There are technologies that we will continue exploring that will deliver more potential out of the engine, Whether or not that ends up being HCCI or some other alterative combustion mode is to be determined. I think we all agree now that HCCI is still in research mode.—Dan Kapp
One such potential complementary technology for addressing the knock challenge, Kapp said, is the ethanol boosting system Ford has been exploring with MIT. (Earlier post.)
That is one sort of research development mode, among many others, that we have looked at in the EcoBoost engines to address this knock limitation. If you can get through that, you can translate that into greater torque potential and therefore greater downsizing, or you can increase the compression ration and improve the engine’s base efficiency.
In the longer term internal combustion engines in general start to hit a wall in terms of CO2 improvement, and ultimately they need a contribution from the fuel side. Renewable fuels have to play a real key role going forward, and while ethanol has certain pros and cons, some of its pros are very compatible with EcoBoost—it is a technology that likes the characteristics of ethanol fuel.—Dan Kapp
Ti-VCT. Although Ti-VCT will inevitably end up being applied in combination with EcoBoost, the first production combination is the 2.0L EcoBoost announced in July. (earlier post). Ti-VCT has a life of is own, with applications such as in the new 3.7L V6 first being applied in the 2011 Mustang (earlier post as well as on the 1.6L in the new Fiesta (earlier post).
Ti-VCT gives precise, variable control of valve overlap. This technology also optimizes phasing on both intake and exhaust camshafts by spinning them ever so slightly to advance or retard valve timing, resulting in improved throttle response at initial throttle tip-in, reduced emissions at part throttle and enhanced efficiency at higher rpm. The outcome is more power, responsiveness and fuel efficiency from less overall cylinder displacement.
|Gains in new vehicle fleet economy by OEM, 2004-2009. Data: EPA. Click to enlarge.|
Ford’s fuel economy gains and “One-percenters”. According to EPA’s recently released annual report, Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2009 (earlier post), Ford has improved in fuel economy more than any other major automaker since 2004, according to data in a recent report by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA rated Ford’s combined car and truck fuel economy improvement at 20.2%, almost double the next closest competitor. Ford, however, was starting with the worst 2004 new vehicle fleet fuel economy of any of its major competitors.
While EcoBoost will play an increasingly foundational global role in ongoing reduction in fuel consumption, its newness means that it played a negligible role in the improvements from 2004 to 2009. What has made a major difference is the rebalancing of the vehicle portfolio. In 2004, noted Mark Fields, Ford EVP and President, The Americas, Ford’s US portfolio was composed of 70% trucks and SUVs, the rest being cars and crossovers. In 2009, trucks and SUVs represented 40% of the portfolio, with cars and crossovers up to 60%.
|“Every joule is precious.”|
—Nizar Trigui, Ford Vehicle Energy Management Engineering
Furthermore, Ford has focused engineering attention on all the aspects of the entire vehicle system that by themselves could deliver a small improvement in fuel consumption—Ford calls these the “one-percenters”— but that together can combine for a substantial improvement. Examples of these include:
- Gear shifting optimization
- Converter lockup/modulation optimizations
- Transmission damper optimization
- Engine stabilized temperatures
- Electrical cooling fan duty cycle
- Electrical loading optimization design
- Tire rolling resistance
- Brake drag
- Fluid viscosity
- NVH v idle speed tradeoffs
- Piston sprayers
- Underhood airflow optimization
Ford is also pursuing a very aggressive aerodynamic strategy, seeking to deliver substantive levels of aero improvements with a minimal impact on design leadership, said Nazi Trigui, of Ford’s Vehicle Energy management group. The company plan is also targeting mid-term weight reductions of 250-750 lbs (113 to 340 kg)—thereby enabling the use of smaller displacement engines and lighter weight components.
Ford is also aggressively implementing what it see as high value technologies across the entire vehicle line up for improved economy. As an example of this “democratization of technology”, Ford plans to fit nearly 90% of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup with EPAS (Electric Power Assist Steering) by 2012.
Another example of rapid technology deployment is the new six-speed transmission. Ford has committed that almost 100% of its transmissions will be advanced six-speed gearboxes by 2013.
While we are implementing our near-, mid- and long-term plans, we are continuing to achieve efficiencies throughout the vehicle in areas that can quickly lead to fuel economy improvement today. Whether we’re reducing wind drag, eliminating engine-driven power steering pumps or switching to low-friction engine oil, this attention to every detail and these small improvements collectively deliver significant fuel economy gains for our customers.—Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development
[Ford hosted Green Car Congress for the Dearborn briefing.]
D. Borrmann; E. Curtis; D. Kapp; T. McCarthy; A. Schamel; M. Wirth (2010) EcoBoost : Downsized Gasoline DI Turbo Engines as the Backbone of Ford’s CO2 and Fuel Economy Product Strategy (paper to be presented at FISITA 2010 World Automotive Congress, May 2010)
Powertrain Strategies for the 21st Century: How Are New Regulations Affecting Company Strategies? (Kapp, presentation at “Focus on the Future” Automotive Research Conference, U. Mich, July 2009)