Modest economy and emissions gains, when spread out, can become significant.
That's the philosophy espoused by Ford these days, as highlighted in a presentation by John Viera, director of Sustainable Business Strategies for the company. I was in attendance for this talk, and the follow up Q&A session, at the recent AltWheels conference mentioned in our previous blog.
"Customers buy on affordability," he noted, so Ford is looking to affordable technologies in high volumes to have an impact on emissions, energy independence, and climate change concerns. The automaker is looking at near, mid-range, and long-term strategies and technology to do this. Near-term will see "migrating advanced technology across all product lines," with mid-term having greater integration for improvement, with advanced and new technology in the long term.
Examples of improvements from Ford now being deployed include 6-speed transmissions (4-6% mileage boost), lighter electric power-assist steering (3-5% better mileage), and EcoBoost direct-injection, turbochared engines that can jump fuel economy from 10-20%. While turbocharging is not a new technology, it allows going from a V8 to a V6 (10% better mileage) or from a V6 to a four-cylinder engine (20% improvement).
In a follow-up interview, Brett Hinds, Ford Advanced Engine Design and Development manager, told me that while turbocharging is the "dominant piece in engine downsizing," direct injection is a further enhancement of the system, permitting higher compression ratios to be maintainedproviding low-end torque and optimizing drive ratios.
Hinds adds that technology enablers for direct injection engines include dual knock sensors, and fuel-rail pressure and manifold pressure sensors that required new operating ranges. New control electronics strategies and software code were also developed, using Volvo turbocharging control methods adapted to Ford vehicles.