Ford three-cylinder engine coming as part of global strategy

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Fiesta

The 2014 Ford Fiesta is getting an "EcoBoost" three-cylinder engine from Ford in Europe. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

For some time now, Ford has been saying that it will start selling a three-cylinder engine in the Fiesta, the Ford subcompact. The motor is actually from Ford’s European lineup, which slots in nicely with the “One Ford” strategy.

Return of the three-cylinder engine

Ford has been saying since 2011 that it would be bringing its recently-debuted 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine to the U.S., for use in compact cars. It’s part of Ford’s corporate strategy called “One Ford,” according to the Detroit Free Press, which is marketing code for “saving money by making the same stuff everywhere.” One of those things is the three-cylinder motor in several of Ford’s European offerings.

The three-cylinder engine hasn’t been around for some time, at least in the United States. Some past cars that used them, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Suzuki Swift of the early 1990s and the Subaru Justy of the late 1980s, as well as the Chevrolet Metro, according to USA Today. They were common in small eco-boxes. Boring to drive, but they got fantastic mileage and are currently hot properties as used cars for that same reason.

Only the turbo version

According to AutoGuide, Ford is launching is the three-cylinder engine in the 2014 Fiesta, which is coming out next year. The motor is currently available in the Euro-spec Focus, C-MAX and B-MAX in both naturally-aspirated and turbo-charged “EcoBoost” varieties. Only the turbo is likely to be offered state-side.

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EcoBoost, first touted for the F-150 pickup, is marketing speak for “sticking in a smaller engine and turbocharging it.” The devil is in the details, but essentially EcoBoost engines are smaller engines that are given additional tuning, direct fuel injection and turbocharging to get the same horsepower as a larger naturally aspirated engine with greater fuel economy.

Ford introduced the engine in 2011, according to Car and Driver. The base motor is a 99-horsepower naturally-aspirated, 1.0-liter inline-three. The first EcoBoost version of the motor was turbocharged up to 118 horsepower, but that has since been raised, according to AutoWeek, to 123-horsepower, three more than the current 2.0-liter four-cylinder currently used in the Fiesta. It’s rated in Europe for upward of 49 miles per gallon, as good as many hybrids and by next fall, it’ll be at Ford dealers in Brooklyn to Modesto and all points in between. The current Fiesta, with an SFE package, is good for 40 mpg.

Likely means a markup

The three-cylinder engine will involve an efficiency premium and subsequently, a bigger car payment. The fuel-saving “SFE” package for the Fiesta and Focus requires an upscale trim level. The EcoBoost three-cylinder is the same; According to Ford UK, the EcoBoost is only available in the “Zetec” trim and up for the Focus, which commands a 3,000 pound (about $4,711) premium over the base model.

The premium for the EcoBoost in domestic Ford models depends; some models use an EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder, others use an EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost adds $995 on all available, whereas the 3.5-liter unit commands a $3,995 premium for the Flex and a $2,395 premium in the F-150. However, in the Fiesta, a 9-mpg gain might be worth it.

Sources

AutoGuide

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Car and Driver

Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20120819/BUSINESS0102/308190151/Ford-wants-uniform-automaking-at-global-plants?odyssey=nav|head

USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2011/06/50-mpg-ford-bringing-three-cylinder-engines-to-us/1#.UDJjK6CBW_0

AutoWeek: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120815/CARNEWS/120809835

Ford UK: http://www.ford.co.uk/

Ford US: http://www.ford.com/


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