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Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press believes that Ford’s recovery plan will gain some momentum from several new engine and transmission technologies that will dramatically improve the power and fuel economy of Ford vehicles. Combined, the systems could actually boost fuel economy by 20% or more and produce V6 engines with more power than some of the current V8s.

Several of the aforementioned technologies made their debut on the Lincoln MKR concept car at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The MKR was powered by a 3.5L twin-turbo 415-hp V6. Ford said that not only did the engine match the output of a V8, but it also uses 15% less fuel.

New Ford production engines are expected to feature single or twin turbocharging, direct gasoline injections, automatic shutoff and cylinder deactivation. The new automatic transmissions will use mechanical components similar to those in a six-speed manual transmission. Shifting will be automatic via electronic controls and hydraulic actuators. This dual-clutch transmission, called Powershift, was developed in cooperation with German transmission company Getrag.

According to the article, “Most of these technologies will first see production at Ford’s European operations, but they will begin to show up on the company’s North American models within two or three years.” Direct injection will likely show up in almost all of Ford’s future engines. This technology relies on high-injection pressure and electronic controls to boost power and fuel economy. Ford says that the new engines will run on regular gasoline, while many of the current engines using direct injection must run on premium.

The combination of direct injection and turbocharging is called Twin Force by the automaker, referring to the increase of both power and fuel economy. The Twin Force direct-injection fuel system differs from conventional port fuel-injected gasoline engines in that gasoline is directly injected into the engine’s cylinders at high pressures. Direct-injection fuel systems are able to more precisely control when and how much fuel is injected into the cylinders, which allows for more efficient burn and improved combustion control that delivers optimal performance and fuel economy.

Currently, Ford is planning to use a single turbo on the four-cylinder engines, and twin turbos on the V6s. A Ford source told the Detroit Free Press that the company's new Twin-Force-powered engines can be compared “to the remarkably smooth and direct-injection twin-turbo straight-six that produces 300 horsepower in the acclaimed BMW 335-ci convertible.”

Sources:  Phelan, Mark. (July 8, 2007). “Efficient Engines at Ford.” Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 12, 2007 from Ford Motor Company.