Issue: Aug 2009


FORD REVEALS NEAR AND LONG TERM POWERTRAIN PLANS



by Bob Brooks

Chicago, IL: During a Ford media presentation here on new model features, the firm’s technology and powertrain communications manager, Alan Hall, provided Automotive Industries with an overview of Ford’s near and long term plans for powertrain technology targeted at meeting the year 2015 MPG standard of just over 35 MPG (per the FTP test)

Two technologies will dominate Ford’s 2010 model year plan. The first will be expanded use of EcoBoost (down sized engines with turbocharging) applied initially to 6-cylinder engines the firm says will provide V-8 performance with 6-cylinder fuel efficiency. Expanded use will be in the Ford Flex, Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS and MKT followed by the F-150 truck in 2011. EcoBoost is to be a cornerstone technology available eventually in small cars up through large cars and light trucks and will include dual independent variable cam timing.

By 2012 Ford plans to produce 750,000 EcoBoost engines annually in the U.S. and 1.3 million per year globally.

The 2nd key launch in the 2010 model year will be hybrid versions of midsize Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models based on advanced NiMH batteries. Ford says its hybrid cars will deliver 41 MPG city claimed to be 8 MPG better than the Toyota Camry hybrid and will be the most fuel efficient midsize sedans in America. (comparative highway MPG and engine generated electrical charge data was not available). .

Ford’s electrification strategy will result in at least four electrified vehicles on the road in the U.S. by 2012 including full battery electrics.

Following is a summary of Ford’s long term powertrain and related vehicle plans outlined in a document provided by Mr. Hall.

For the period 2007-2012:
- Significant number of vehicles with EcoBoost technology.
- Dual clutch and 6-speed transmissions to replace 4-5-speed automatics.
- Increased unibody applications
- Increased hybrid applications
- Introduction of smaller cars and CUVs
- Electric power steering to reach 80-90%
- Aerodynamic improvements up to 5% gain. `
- Low volume introduction of battery electric vehicles.

For the period 2012 to 2020
- Vehicle weight reduction of 250 to 750 lbs. (more)
- Related engine displacement reduction `
- EcoBoost availability in nearly all vehicles by 2013
- Diesel use as market demands up to 10%
- Additional aerodynamic gain by another 5%
- Electric power assisted steering approaches 100%
- Increasing volumes of hybrid and electric vehicles
- Low volume introduction of plug hybrid electric vehicles.

For the period 2020-2030
- Volume introduction of electrified vehicles
- Introduction of advanced technology and electrified vehicles based on energy policy direction.

Ford believes that by the end of 2010, fleet MPG gains of 20% vs. year 2005 will be achieved and by year 2015 the gain (vs. 2005) will be 35%. Gains vs. the 2009 level are not given.

Considering the ferocious competition under way among World auto makers
coincidental with requirements for substantial reductions in vehicle energy use,
the cost effectiveness of competing new technologies, hence price of new vehicles, takes on ever greater importance. Additional importance hinges on success of heavily funded development of drop-in alternative fuels likely to have fuel price implications driven by costly new fuel production investment requirements. Much of the new drop-in fuel interest currently is in unique strains of algae grown in seawater fed with CO2, nutrients and sunlight to continuously produce bio crude oil and, alternatively, bio ethanol without having to harvest the algae. The bio crude is refined into drop-in diesel, gasoline, Jet-A and other products. Ethanol is used .as fuel or feedstock for plastics.

A few of the new vehicle technology questions , for instance, are infinitely variable valve lift and timing vs. timing only, low pressure dual port fuel injection per cylinder vs single high pressure direct injection; turbocharging vs. multiple engine system enhancements; cooled EGR with high compression gasoline vs. diesel systems and the overall hybrid complexity and cost issue. Another question is whether the higher efficiency of roller bearings might replace plain bearings in future automotive engines.


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