This section outlines our plans for improving the fuel economy of traditional gas and diesel engines. These actions include implementing advanced engine and transmission technologies, weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements, as well as increasing the efficiency of vehicle subsystems.
For more information about each of our fuel-efficiency technologies, please click on the icons in the graphic above.
The centerpiece of our near-term fuel-economy improvement efforts is the EcoBoost engine, which uses turbocharging and direct injection along with reduced displacement to deliver significant fuel-efficiency gains and CO2 reductions, relative to larger displacement engines, without sacrificing vehicle performance.
EcoBoost offers comparatively better value than many other advanced fuel-efficiency technologies. Due to its affordability relative to competing powertrain options, and its compatibility with most of the gas-powered vehicles we produce, we are able to offer EcoBoost’s fuel-economy benefits throughout our product lineup more quickly and to a greater number of our customers. Our rapid deployment of EcoBoost in high volumes across a wide array of our vehicle nameplates is also helping us make a dramatic step forward in CO2 emission reductions.
Ford initially introduced the EcoBoost engine in 2009. Since then we have sold more than 520,000 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles globally. In 2012 we offered 11 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles in the U.S., up from seven in 2011, thereby tripling the production capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. By the end of 2013 we will offer EcoBoost engines on four more North American nameplates; at that point they will be available on 90 percent of our North American and European nameplates. Also, we continue to migrate EcoBoost engines to our other regions.
All told, we have introduced or announced five EcoBoost engine displacements with multiple derivatives for specific vehicles and markets, as follows:
3.5L V6 EcoBoost: We introduced the first EcoBoost engine – a 3.5L V6 – in North America on the 2010 Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Ford Taurus SHO and Ford Flex. This engine provides comparable or superior performance to a normally aspirated V8 engine, but with the fuel economy of a V6. We also offer the 3.5L EcoBoost on the F-150, beginning with the 2011 model.
2.0L I-4 EcoBoost: In 2010 we introduced a 2.0L I-4 EcoBoost engine, the first in the EcoBoost lineup to go truly global.
These EcoBoost engines illustrate Ford’s plans to use smaller-displacement, power-boosted engines to deliver improved fuel economy and performance throughout our vehicle lineup. As EcoBoost is a key element of our long-term powertrain strategy, we will continue to improve its efficiency and vehicle application potential through the further development of supporting advanced technologies.
We have adopted six-speed transmissions across our product portfolio, replacing less-efficient four- and five-speed transmissions. We are also improving the performance of all our advanced transmissions by further optimizing their operation with EcoBoost engines and further reducing parasitic losses such as mechanical friction and extraneous hydraulic and fluid pumping, to achieve higher operating efficiency. We are also researching other advanced transmission concepts to support further efficiency improvements. In April 2013, for example, we announced that we will jointly develop – with General Motors – an all-new generation of advanced-technology nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks, which will provide further vehicle performance and fuel-efficiency benefits.
Six-speed transmissions improve fuel economy by up to 9 percent over four- and five-speed gear boxes, depending on the application. They also provide better acceleration, smoother shifting and a quieter driving experience.
We have already introduced six-speed transmissions in the majority of our vehicles. Ninety-eight percent of the transmissions on our vehicles in North America are now advanced six-speed gearboxes. We plan to make advanced eight-plus speed gearboxes available by the end of the decade.
Electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) uses a small electric motor instead of conventional hydraulic systems to control steering.
EPAS typically will reduce fuel consumption and decrease carbon dioxide emissions by up to 3.5 percent over traditional hydraulic systems, depending on the vehicle and powertrain application. On the 1.4L Duratorq® diesel Ford Fiesta, for example, which is available in Europe, EPAS provides a 3–4 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared with a hydraulic-based power steering system. By combining EPAS with aerodynamic improvements, we improved the mileage of this vehicle by approximately 8 percent compared to the previous model year. EPAS also enables other advanced technologies such as “pull drift” compensation, which detects road conditions – such as a crowned road surface or crosswinds – and adjusts the EPAS steering system to help the driver compensate for pulling and drifting. EPAS also enables Active Park Assist, which helps drivers to parallel park.
We already offer EPAS in the Ford Explorer, F-150, Mustang, Fusion, Flex, Taurus and Escape and the Lincoln MKS, MKT and MKZ Hybrid in North America; the new Ford C-MAX, Focus, Focus ST, and Fiesta in North America and Europe; and the Ford Ka and Kuga in Europe. EPAS is also used in all of our new electrified vehicles.
“Start-stop” technology shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stopped and automatically restarts it before the accelerator pedal is pressed to resume driving. Start-stop technology includes sensors to monitor functions such as cabin temperature, power supply state and steering input, so that vehicle functioning remains exactly the same to the driver as when the engine remains on continuously. If the system senses that a vehicle function has been reduced and will negatively impact the driver’s experience, the engine will restart automatically.
This technology maintains the same vehicle functionality as that offered in a conventional vehicle, but saves the fuel typically wasted when a car is standing and running at idle. Savings vary depending on driving patterns. On average, it improves fuel efficiency by 3.5 percent, but it can improve fuel efficiency even more in city driving. The technology can also reduce tailpipe emissions to zero while the vehicle is stationary – for example, when waiting at a stoplight.
Start-stop technology is already being used in our hybrid vehicles and will eventually provide a cost-effective way to improve fuel efficiency on a large volume of non-hybrid vehicles. In the U.S., we introduced the technology on the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion with 1.6L engine and automatic transmissions. In Europe, Auto Start-Stop is already standard on the Ford Ka and certain versions of the Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy, Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. By 2016, 90 percent of our vehicle nameplates globally will be available with Auto Start-Stop.
We are also working to improve fuel economy by decreasing the weight of our vehicles – in particular by increasing our use of unibody vehicle designs, lighter-weight components and lighter-weight materials.
Unibody vehicle designs reduce weight by eliminating the need for the body-on-frame design used in truck-based products. We are also using lightweight materials, such as advanced high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, natural fibers, and nano-based materials to reduce vehicle weight. And, some of our advanced engine and transmission technologies, such as EcoBoost® and our dual-clutch PowerShift transmissions, further reduce overall vehicle weight.
In general, reducing vehicle weight reduces fuel use. To achieve our fuel-efficiency goals, we need to reduce the weight of our vehicles by 250 to 750 pounds, without compromising vehicle size, safety, performance or customer-desired features. Weight reductions alone may have relatively small impacts on fuel economy. By itself, a 10 percent reduction in weight results in approximately a 3 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. However, if vehicle weights can be reduced even more substantially, it becomes possible to downsize the powertrains required to run the vehicle. Weight reductions combined with powertrain re-matching not only improves fuel economy, but helps maintain overall performance (compared to a heavier vehicle with a larger engine).
Many lightweight materials also have benefits beyond fuel-efficiency gains. To learn more about the benefits of natural fiber materials, please see the Sustainable Materials section.
Unibody designs have replaced heavier truck-based designs on the Ford Explorer, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover.
And we have implemented lighter-weight materials in a range of vehicles and parts applications, including the following:
In 2012, we introduced a new, lightweight, injection-molded plastic technology called MuCell on the all-new Ford Escape. Manufacturing MuCell involves the highly controlled use of a gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen in the injection-molding process, which creates millions of micron-sized bubbles in uniform configurations, lowering the weight of the plastic part by more than one pound per vehicle. This is the first time MuCell has been used in an instrument panel. In addition to reducing weight, the MuCell microcellular foam saves money and production time. On the 2012 Escape, MuCell saves an estimated $3 per vehicle vs. solid injection molding, and molding cycle time is reduced 15 percent. This plastic was the Grand Award Winner at the 2011 Society of Plastic Engineers competition in the “Most Innovative Use of Plastics Award” category.
The Lincoln MKT crossover has an advanced lightweight magnesium and aluminum liftgate, which is more than 20 pounds, or 40 percent, lighter than a similar part made from standard steel.
We use an aluminum hood on the Ford F-150 and high-strength, lighter-weight steels in more than 50 percent of the F-150 cab.
The Ford Explorer makes extensive use of high-strength steels. Nearly half of the vehicle’s structure – including the A-pillars, rocker panels and front beams – are comprised of high- strength steels, such as boron. The Explorer also has an aluminum hood.
In the Ford Focus, more than 55 percent of the vehicle shell is made from high-strength steel and more than 26 percent of the vehicle’s structure is formed from ultra-high-strength boron steels. The Focus combines these high-strength steels with innovative manufacturing methods to further reduce weight. For example, the vehicle’s B-pillar reinforcement, a key structural part, is made from ultra-high-strength boron steel that has been produced using an innovative tailor-rolling process. The process allows the thickness of the steel sheet to be varied along its length, so the component has increased strength in the areas that are subjected to the greatest loads. The tailor-rolled B-pillar has eight different gauge thicknesses, to improve side-impact crash performance while saving more than three pounds per vehicle.
We are also expanding our use of aluminum engine parts and all-aluminum engines. The current Mustang, for example, has an aluminum engine.
By using high-strength steels, the European Ford Fiesta weighs approximately 40 kilograms less, depending on engine choice, even though it stands on virtually the same footprint as the previous model and has 10 kilograms of new safety features and sound insulation.
Ford researchers are also investigating additional new lightweight materials. For example, we are investigating and developing:
Ford is also working to understand the health and safety issues that may be posed by nano-materials. Ford has joined with other automakers under the U.S. Council for Automotive Research umbrella to sponsor research into nano-materials’ potential impact on human health and the environment. This research has addressed many health- and environment-related questions so that we can focus our nano-materials research and development in areas that will be most beneficial.
Electrical systems are another area in which we are making progress. By reducing vehicle electrical loads and increasing the efficiency of a vehicle’s electrical power generation system, we can improve fuel efficiency. Our Battery Management Systems (BMSs), for example, control the power supply system (in particular the alternator) to maximize the overall efficiency of the electrical system and reduce its negative impacts on fuel economy. This is accomplished by maximizing electricity generation during the most fuel-efficient situations, such as vehicle deceleration. In less fuel-efficient situations, the alternator’s electricity generation is minimized to conserve fuel.
BMSs have already been launched in Europe on the Ford Focus and Mondeo and in the U.S. beginning with the 2011 Ford Edge, Explorer and F-150, the 2011 Lincoln MKX and the 2012 Ford Focus. We will continue to implement BMSs on a range of 2013 model year vehicles. We have also introduced more-efficient alternators, which improve fuel economy.
Aggressive Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off (ADFSO) allows fuel supply to the engine to be shut off during vehicle deceleration and then automatically restarted when needed for acceleration or when the vehicle’s speed approaches zero. This advancement builds on the Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off technology available in our existing vehicles by extending the fuel shut-off to lower speeds and more types of common driving conditions, without compromising driving performance or emissions.
This improved fuel shut-off technology will increase fuel economy by an average of 1 percent. An additional benefit is increased deceleration rates, which should extend brake life and improve speed control on undulating roads.
Starting in 2008, ADFSO was implemented on the Ford Flex, F-150, Expedition and Escape and the Lincoln MKS and Navigator. We are continuing to implement it as we bring out new vehicles. The ADFSO technology will be a standard feature in all of our North American vehicles by 2015, and we will continue to expand implementation globally.
We are optimizing vehicle aerodynamics to improve the fuel economy of our global product lineup. Using a systems engineering approach that integrates aerodynamics in an interdisciplinary and collaborative design and development process with other fuel-economy technologies, we are maximizing the fuel efficiency of every vehicle we develop. During the development process, we use advanced computer simulations and optimization methods coupled with wind-tunnel testing to create vehicle designs that deliver up to 5 percent better fuel economy. In addition, we are developing simulation systems that allow us to replicate on-the-road driving conditions during the virtual design phase, to facilitate the real-world benefits of aerodynamic improvements. We have a global aerodynamics team to support global product design. Aerodynamics engineers from North America, Europe, South America and Asia Pacific and Africa collaborated to deliver three of our most important global vehicles – the 2013 Ford EcoSport, C-MAX and Ranger pickup – with improved aerodynamics.
Active Grille Shutter technology is one of our key aerodynamics improvements. It reduces aerodynamic drag by up to 6 percent, thereby increasing fuel economy and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. When fully closed, the reduction in drag means that the Active Grille Shutter can reduce CO2 emissions by 2 percent.
We implemented Active Grill Shutter technology first on our European vehicles. In the U.S., we have implemented it on the 2012 Ford Focus and Edge, the 2013 Ford Escape and the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion.
We are also making significant improvements in aerodynamics on vehicles introduced for the 2012 to 2014 model years. For example:
We reduced aerodynamic drag in the 2013 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ up to 10 percent, in comparison with the 2012 models, through extensive aerodynamic improvements, including underbody shielding, tire spoilers, wheels, body shape, vehicle proportion and Active Grille Shutters. Our aerodynamics engineers even optimized the aerodynamics of wheel and mirror design to further reduce drag from the front of the vehicle. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid achieved an outstanding drag coefficient of as low as 0.27 – among the best in the world. (For more information on our fuel-economy leaders, please see Vehicle Fuel Economy and CO2 Emissions Progress and Performance.)
The 2013 Ford Escape is nearly 10 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing model.
We significantly reduced the drag coefficient on the all-new 2012 Focus four-door to 0.297 from the previous model’s 0.320. Optimized aerodynamics also help to reduce wind noise in the Focus.
Smaller vehicles provide consumers with another way to get better fuel economy. Simply by being smaller and lighter, smaller vehicles can significantly reduce fuel use and related emissions.
We are launching more small cars to provide more fuel-efficient options. For example:
We are introducing subcompact vehicles commonly referred to as “B-cars.” These include the all-new Ford Fiesta, which was introduced in Europe in 2008, the Asia Pacific region in 2009 and the Americas in 2010.
We are introducing a wide range of new vehicles in the U.S. and other markets based on our global “C-platform,” or compact sedan. In the next few years, we are introducing 10 new vehicles based on this C-platform. In 2011, we launched the next-generation global Ford Focus to North America. This vehicle includes the first in a series of powertrain technology developments that will give our C-car segment offerings a combination of power, performance and unsurpassed fuel economy. We also now offer a battery-electric version called the Focus Electric. In addition, we introduced the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid, in the U.S. The C-MAX is a multi-activity vehicle based on our C-platform. And, we brought the European Transit Connect small commercial van to North America. This vehicle fills an unmet need in the U.S. market by offering the large cargo space that small business owners need in a fuel-efficient, maneuverable, durable and flexible vehicle package.
In 2012 we revealed the all-new Ford EcoSport compact SUV, which will ultimately be available in nearly 100 markets globally, including India and Brazil. This vehicle is part of our global commitment to deliver fuel-efficient vehicles that customers truly want and value.
We have loaded these smaller vehicles with features and options commonly found on larger or luxury vehicles to make them attractive, thus encouraging customers to choose more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
All of these smaller vehicles illustrate Ford’s actions to provide consumers with a wider range of fuel-efficient options, as well as our efforts to leverage the best of our global products to offer new choices to customers in all of our regions worldwide.