Even with cheap gas, motorists have been migrating away from traditional engine choices, and that’s convinced Ford to pump $145 million into the Cleveland Engine Plant producing one of its key alternatives, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine used in a variety of models such as the big F-150 pickup.
Ford plans to make the turbocharged engine – which serves as an alternative to traditional V-8s – available on a wider line-up of vehicles in the coming years. It’s taking a similar approach with other members of the EcoBoost family which include engines as small as a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder package.
“Ford customers have embraced EcoBoost’s unbeatable combination of power and efficiency, with more than 60% of F-150 customers choosing trucks powered by EcoBoost,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford President of The Americas Joe Hinrichs, said in a statement.
Add a naturally aspirated – or non-turbo – V-6 option, and about two-thirds of F-150 buyers no longer use V-8s in the full-size truck. That’s an unheard of transformation in a market segment where V-8s were the overwhelming option of choice until recently.
But the same shift is occurring across the Ford line-up. The maker has seen a rapid growth of its turbocharged EcoBoost models in a wide range of products, from the little Fiesta hatchback to the big Expedition SUV. Even the Mustang now has an EcoBoost option.
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And Ford isn’t alone. Virtually all diesels now use turbochargers, as do a growing number of gasoline engines. A study by Honeywell, a major supplier of the turbos, estimated the technology could be found on as much as 80% of the vehicles sold worldwide by decade’s end, up from barely 25% in 2014.
Honda is adding its first mainstream turbo version of the Civic this year, with an assortment of new engines – dubbed Earth Dreams – being added to its line-up. General Motors is just launching a new flagship for its Cadillac line, and the top version of the new Caddy CT6 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, rather than the big V-8 traditionally required of a large luxury car. Volvo is abandoning six and eight-cylinder models entirely.
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The 3.5-liter engine is the largest in an expanding Ford EcoBoost family that was first introduced in 2009. It currently is used in a mix of models including not only the F-150 pickup but the Explorer, Expedition and Flex utility vehicles and the Taurus sedan.
The $145 million project announced today will allow Ford to transition to a more advanced, second-generation version of the engine, adding a special version specifically for the F-150 Raptor, a serious off-road version of the full-size truck. It’s the first time a Raptor will be offered with an EcoBoost.
It will replace the old 6.2-liter V-8 used in the Raptor. According to Ford, it will match the power of the old engine while significantly boosting fuel efficiency. Notably the second-gen EcoBoost will be paired with an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission
The investment will also upgrade the plant and expand its production capabilities. The Cleveland factory currently employs about 1,500. It has so far produced over 1 million EcoBoost engines.
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