Ford recently announced that it will charge a $700 premium for its EcoBoost engine system debuting in 2009. According to AutoWeek, the 20% improvement in fuel economy comes from the use of turbocharging and direct injection and will enable buyers to recoup the premium within two years (the article assumes that drivers will travel 15,000 miles per year, spending $3.25 a gallon for gasoline).

Automotive enthusiasts are likely to continue to opt for gasoline-powered vehicles, so engine technologies that improve the fuel economy of these traditional powertrains may bode well for the specialty-equipment industry. SEMA surveyed automotive magazine subscribers via its 2008 Automotive Lifestyles Survey of enthusiasts, a group of consumers that say they spent more than $3,000 on specialty equipment during the last year.

According to the preliminary results gathered this month, 77% say that they would “definitely” consider a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle upon their next vehicle purchase, compared to 20% that would opt for a gas-electric hybrid or 34% that would choose a diesel.

Gas-saving engine technologies, such as EcoBoost, however, may draw the attention of specialty-equipment-buying enthusiasts.

The vehicles slated to receive EcoBoost include the Lincoln MKS sedan and Ford Flex CUV, which will receive the twin-turbocharged 3.5 V6 version in 2009, and the Ford F-150, which will receive a 340-plus horsepower V6 in 2010. Four-cylinder engines powered with EconoBoost systems will arrive in 2010, but Ford has not announced the models that will receive the new technology.

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