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by Tim Beissmann

Ford will introduce an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission as it seeks to improve the fuel efficiency of its global vehicle fleet.

The new turbocharged petrol engine will be the smallest powerplant ever mass-produced by Ford and will be available around the world in the manufacturer’s small cars, like the Fiesta and the Focus.

Ford vice president of Global Product Development, Derrick Kuzak, said the 1.0-litre EcoBoost would deliver power and torque levels equivalent to or better than most naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines.

“No one’s ever built a three-cylinder engine quite like this,” Mr Kuzak said.

“Not only is it one of the most technically advanced and efficient engines we’ve ever designed, but it will introduce a number of new technologies to the Ford engine line-up.”

Technical highlights of the new EcoBoost engine include an offset crankshaft, advanced split cooling system for faster cylinder block warm-up, exhaust manifold cast into the cylinder head, as well as turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT).

Ford is yet to announce which vehicle the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will debut in and when it will come to the market, although it is expected to be on sale by 2013.

Ford Australia’s Sinead McAlary admitted the 1.0-litre EcoBoost was unlikely to be introduced to the local line-up at this stage.

“It’s not in our plans at the moment. I’m not sure there would be the demand for such a small capacity engine here,” Ms McAlary said.

She did, however, admit the performance gains created by the EcoBoost technology might make the powerplant a viable alternative to larger four-cylinder engines, and said Ford Australia would assess the capability of the engine on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.

The eight-speed automatic transmission will also be a first for the Detroit-based company.

It will feature Ford’s next generation clutch control technology, an input torque sensor for faster gear selection and smoother shifts, actuators built into the case, and closed-loop control.

The eight-speed transmission will be used in Ford’s larger passenger cars, trucks and SUVs.

Ms McAlary said production of the eight-speed transmission was too far off to even speculate its introduction into Australia.

“We’ll have to leave the eight-speed Falcon conversation for a later date,” she said jokingly.

Ford is also developing a new electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) for its upcoming range of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Full-scale production of that transmission will begin in the first quarter of 2012.

Ford remains on track to launch five electrified vehicles in the US by 2012 and in Europe by 2013.




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