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by Tim Beissmann

Update: Ford Falcon EcoLPi Review

The new 2011 Ford Falcon EcoLPi LPG will produce the same amount of power and torque as the standard petrol-powered I6 engine when the vehicle goes on sale in a few months’ time.

Ford Australia revealed the EcoLPi powertrain will produce 198kW of power at 5000rpm and 409Nm of torque at 3250rpm – figures identical to the petrol-powered I6 engine when operating on 95 RON premium unleaded. On standard 91 RON unleaded the I6 engine produces 195kW and 391Nm.

Performance from the liquid phase injection EcoLPi is a significant step up from the old E-Gas model, which produced 156kW and 371Nm (27 percent increase in power, 10 percent increase in torque).

Ford says preliminary testing of the Falcon EcoLPi sedan has delivered fuel economy and emissions improvements of between 12 and 15 percent.

The previous generation E-Gas models used 14.9 litres/100km and emitted 240g/km CO2. Therefore, if the pre-production tests are on the money, expect the EcoLPi to deliver figures around 12.7-13.1 litres/100km and 204-211g/km.

Economy is worse than the petrol-powered I6, which achieves 9.9 litres/100km, however current fuel prices have LPG around $1.00 per litre cheaper than premium unleaded petrol, leading to a significant reduction in EcoLPi running costs.

EcoLPi technology will be available in Falcon XT, G6, G6E and XR6 sedan models, as well as the XL, R6 and XR6 utes (in both Cab Chassis and Styleside Box bodies).

The introduction of the new LPG system will also see the four-speed automatic transmission of the previous E-Gas models replaced by the ZF six-speed automatic transmission on all EcoLPi models.

Ford has been without an LPG-powered Falcon since September 2010. Earlier this year, Ford Australia’s Sinead McAlary said LPG vehicles usually accounted for 20 to 25 percent of total Falcon sales. Ford expects the reintroduction of LPG will have a positive impact on sales in the second half of this year.

Liquid injection is the most advanced LPG system used today. Traditional LPG systems turn liquefied gas into vapour before feeding it into the engine via a venturi in the throttle body, whereas the liquid phase injection system takes the gas in liquid state all the way to the injectors.

This means the fuel is injected into the intake port with more precision and under more controlled circumstances, leading to improved volumetric efficiency.

As the figures above show, the overall result is increased power, torque and efficiency.

Other technical highlights of the EcoLPi system over the E-Gas include new fuel rail and injectors designed specifically for the engine, lightweight pistons and low-friction rings, 12.0:1 compression ratio, new polymer fuel lines, new fuel line and in-tank filters, new catalytic converter, significant modifications to the fuel tank and recalibration of the engine management system.

Ford Australia President and CEO, Bob Graziano, said EcoPLi technology was a key pillar in Ford’s introduction of more fuel efficient and environmentally conscious vehicles.

“The introduction of EcoLPi is the next step in Ford Australia’s comprehensive new product offensive, which will see close to 85 percent of our vehicle line-up all-new or significantly updated over the next 12 months,” Mr Graziano said.

“LPG is an alternative fuel that is readily available almost anywhere in Australia and provides real benefits for Australian consumers, with reduced fuel costs contributing to a significant improvement in cost of ownership.

“Falcon EcoLPi offers customers the power, torque and overall engine performance they expect from a traditional Aussie six, coupled with all the space, comfort and towing capability of a family sedan, while at the same time delivering the fuel costs of a smaller car.”

Ford Australia will introduce the Ford Territory diesel in the coming weeks, followed by the Ford Mondeo EcoBoost mid-year and the Ford Falcon EcoBoost early in 2012.