When we asked Ford executive vice president Mark Fields about diesels last week, he said mildly, "You'll see diesels used in our truck line, especially the larger models."
Lo and behold, Ford has released details on its latest, 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel. It's the first one Ford has designed in-house after a deal with International to supply diesels for large F-Series pickups fell apart in a messy legal battle over warranty claims.
Ford says the new 6.7-liter V8 turbodiesel is the most powerful, the most refined, the greenest, and the most fuel-efficient diesel it has ever offered.
The new engine is described in lavish detail over on GreenCarReports.com, so we'll restrict the technical stuff here to one clever innovation: Ford mounts the single sequential turbo between the cylinder banks, in the vee of the engine, rather than having to hang turbos off two exterior exhaust manifolds.
That requires flipping the airflow completely around, with intake manifolds on the outside and exhaust exiting into the vee. The advantages are a shorter distance for the gases to travel, better heat management, and the need for just a single turbo.
For the record, GM's now-shelved new 4.5-liter Duramax diesel had a vee-mounted turbo too. But Ford's larger Power Stroke will hit the market first.
The new Power Stroke has the usual alphabet soup of modern turbodiesel emission control equipment: exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR), a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to inject urea like the Mercedes-Benz BlueTec system, and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to remove soot.
Ford is leaving several details open thus far. It hasn't released prices, horsepower and torque figures, or fuel economy ratings. In fact, it hasn't even said what transmissions it will offer, though we do know a manual won't be one of them.
The new design fits in the same package as the company's earlier Power Stroke V8s. That means no structural changes were needed to drop the new engine into its Super Duty line of large pickups and other trucks for 2011.
But the question that's likely on most buyers' minds is this: Can we get this new turbodiesel in the mainstay F-150 pickup truck?
Not now, says Fields. The new engine will be restricted at launch to Ford's larger pickups and other trucks, starting with the F-250 (over 8,500 pounds). "We had one all planned and engineered for the F-150," he told us recently, "but that's on ice right now."
We hear through the grapevine, though, that "right now" may not last forever...