New Ford V6 Shows Evolutionary Improvements
Ford's new engine is not world-changing and won't solve our fossil fuel problems, but it is a step in the right direction and deserves mention (even if only barely in the "almost" category). After over 15 years of basically no progress on the fuel economy front (fleet average), it is nice to see some R&D; go into that area and emission control rather than - as usual - into more wasted power. The new V6 platform is interesting because it was built with upgrades in mind: Some of the possible paths are hybrid capability, gasoline direct injection and direct-injection turbocharging. The new engine is also Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) capable right out of the box, and it delivers low cold-start emissions thanks to the design that allows the catalytic converter to warm up quickly.This engine should be available in one form or another in one fifth of all Ford vehicles offered in North-America by 2010, according to Ford. A nice move would be to not limit PZEV only to California and some other US states but to make it the default version everywhere.
The new engine will be mated to a new 6-speed automatic transaxle in the upcoming Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator crossovers, which debut next year. The combination will deliver improved fuel economy of up to 7% and improved sustained acceleration [highway driving] compared with a typical 4-speed automatic.
The new V6 produces 250 hp (187 kW) and 325 Nm of torque with a 3.5-liter displacement unit the same height and width as the smaller Duratec 30 V6. This more compact form factor enables Ford to install the engine in a wide variety of current and future products.
We talk a lot about small cars, and while it is important for the mainstream to go back to saner-sized cars, public transportation, biking & walking, and stop thinking that it is normal to carry a 160 lbs person in a 8,000 lbs SUV, it is also important to address the inefficiencies of light trucks because there will always be a certain number of people that buy them whether they need them or not (a good example of how that can be achieved can be found in this post about the Union Of Concerned Scientists' suggestions on how to make SUVs get 30+ mpg).
The most interesting use for this new engine would be in Ford's best-selling F-150 pickup truck. When V8 power is needed, it could be coupled with a high-torque hybrid system, thus improving the gas mileage of some of the worst light trucks on the road.