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Ford has moved a step closer to the four-cylinder Falcon with the news that the first test prototypes using the EcoBoost engine have begun running.

Ford’s President and CEO Marin Burela told a media briefing in Melbourne this morning that the first Falcon ‘mules’ running the 2.0-litre, direct-injection, turbocharged, four cylinder were in operation.

Questioned by CarAdvice about the EcoBoost progress at this morning’s briefing Mr Burela said the engines were now being tested.

“We use different types of vehicles, yes we have mules that have Falcon configurations,” he said.

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“All the testing that we have done in terms of weight-ratio, vehicle performance, take-off, torque, everything that we have done has indicated to us that this will be very good,” Mr Burela added.

In July, when Ford announced the $230 million dollar plan to make the Falcon the first rear-wheel-drive car in the Ford world to run the engine, Mr Burela said it would be fitted to test vehicles within two weeks.

He later told journalists that this had been delayed, although he did admit that the engine was running in the T6 commercial vehicle mules that CarAdvice has previously photographed being tested at the Ford Proving Ground.

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Despite the slight delays in getting the test vehicles underway Mr Burela indicated that the program was on schedule and he said the Falcon EcoBoost would be on sale in the first half of 2011.

He said the strategy remained on track and he prophesised the engine would give Ford an avenue into a wide range of government and fleet sales that it was currently being denied.

“Look many fleets do buy large cars but there are a lot of smaller four-cylinder cars also being bought, where a larger car would be more desirable, and we will be able to satisfy that desire,” Mr Burela said.

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“I think it is going to be a huge surprise and delight for the market because it will give people and incredible option, and the EcoBoost technology, being a direct-injection, turbocharged four-cylinder engine will give us the power, give us the fuel efficiency and the CO2 reductions.”

Information from Ford in the US indicates the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine with EcoBoost technology delivers 205kW and 379Nm of torque, approximately the equivalent for a 3.5-litre V6 engine.

He also took a swipe at Toyota’s Camry Hybrid, saying the EcoBoost Falcon would offer more accommodation and better fuel economy for a significantly lower cost.

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He also expressed considerable confidence that the performance of the EcoBoost engine would win over any buyers who were sceptical about the ability of a small engine to move a vehicle as large as the Falcon.

Mr Burela dismissed suggestions that the EcoBoost would be used in a low-cost, fleet style model of the Falcon saying it represented affordable technology that would give people a choice.

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He said the four-cylinder Falcon would compliment the in-line six-cylinder powered vehicles in the range and would appeal to those who chose to buy into the proposition.

Mr Burela suggested that the EcoBoost Falcon would provide Ford with incremental business and sell alongside the in-line six, which will be upgraded to Euro4 emissions standards next year.






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