The diesel engine technology developed by Ford Australia for the new 2011 Ford Territory will be used in other Ford products around the world.
Committed to the One Ford strategy, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa engineering director, Jim Baumbick, confirmed the powertrain, dynamics and refinement systems developed for the Territory would be far from unique to that vehicle.
“All the time and energy and effort that went into the powerpack – the corporate strategy is that these are global powerpacks and the vehicle plans have to intersect,” Mr Baumbick said.
“We’re seeing a perfect genesis of that in EcoBoost and the implementation of EcoBoost in Falcon that’s soon to be coming.
“That powerpack has been designed to be used across multiple platforms and multiple applications.“The obvious benefit is buying leverage, but also the efficiency. You have all that quality history, all that refinement, all that learning – you’re not going to redo it every time.”
The 2.7-litre diesel engine was developed by Ford and PSA Peugeot Citroen at the beginning of the last decade and was first implemented in the Jaguar S-Type in 2004 in twin-turbo configuration.
The variant fitted to the Territory uses a compacted graphite iron cylinder block with alloy heads, double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and a single variable geometry turbocharger (VGT).
Ford Asia Pacific and Africa powertrain development manager, David Mitchell, said the Territory package was a significant upgrade from earlier iterations and was specifically engineered for local conditions.
“The package is different. You can see the hardware differences, and then in terms of calibration it has a unique calibration for the Territory application,” Mr Mitchell said.
He confirmed the base engine would be built at the Dagenham engine plant in the UK and all of the specific engine calibration work would be completed in Australia.
He admitted the decision to team the diesel engine with the US-sourced 6R80 six-speed automatic engine rather than the ZF six-speed auto from the petrol was one motivated largely by cost considerations.
The latest update is likely to carry the Territory until at least 2014, by which time the diesel engine will be more than 10 years old. Despite this, Mr Mitchell said he had no concerns about its ability long-term.
“In its current form it can easily sustain that sort of timeframe,” he said.
He also admitted there was room to develop the engine further to keep it fresh in the future.
“If the marketing equation says ‘We want more performance, or we want more fuel economy, or we want more torque’, then we can go away and investigate what the technical solutions to that might be.“But right now, this is where we’re at and we’re not into that discussion.”
On the issue of different powertrains, Mr Mitchell and other Ford engineers laughed off the suggestion of a V8-powered Territory. A return of the turbocharged petrol engine is also off the cards.
Ford Australia’s product development director, Russell Christophers, explained the Territory had sold more than 120,000 units since its launch in 2004, and at its peak controlled one-third of the medium SUV market.
In 2010, Ford sold 11,558 Territory models, which made up just 13.8 percent of the segment, and Mr Christophers said the primary reason for the Territory’s share decline was the increased demand for diesel.
“Diesel in the segment now accounts for about 40 percent of sales and my call is that by the end of the year diesel demand will be around 50 percent,” he said.
Mr Christophers admitted competitive pressures and an ageing product also hurt Ford late in the outgoing model’s life.
He said the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and Ford’s revised priorities as a result were the main reason why it took so long for Ford Australia to introduce the diesel model.
Ford expects to see “significant improvements in share” now that the Territory is competing against the whole medium SUV market, rather than just the petrol variants from other brands.
Mr Mitchell added that Ford would have no issues meeting high demand for diesel from a production point of view if the demand was there.
The diesel promises to be a leader in NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), and Ford Australia NVH supervisor, Manu Jean, admitted the diesel is even quieter than the petrol engine.
“In our quest to engineer interior quietness into the vehicle, we decided that we had to be competitive with the BMW X5,” Mr Jean said.“It’s quite a significant improvement. Our average customer will notice the difference, and this is what we want.”
A key measure of NVH is something known as the ‘articulation index’, which gauges speech intelligibility (the ease of maintaining a conversation in the car with external noises and vibrations), and Mr Jean said the Territory was benchmarked against the Land Rover Discovery 4 in this area.
“We wanted it to be quieter and we’ve achieved a 10 percent articulation index improvement, wind noise has improved by about 10 percent, road noise is improved by five percent.”
Mr Jean said the acceleration was a “refined event” in the new Territory, with less emphasis on being sporty and more on being a “family car”.
But Ford Asia Pacific and Africa NVH manager, Michael Stellamanns, said that didn’t necessarily mean the diesel Territory wasn’t a sporty car.
“What some people perceive as sporty, others may perceive as being too loud or unrefined. Our mission brief was: refined,” Mr Stellamanns said.“We’re not saying we’re not sporty – we’ll let you make that decision when you drive it. Our main focus was refinement.”
We’ll be sure to let you know exactly what we think of the new 2011 Ford Territory TDCi when we get behind the wheel next month, ahead of the vehicle’s official on sale launch.