“In brief, there are two ways to provide the power and torque needed for towing and hauling, while also improving fuel efficiency,” said GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson. “One is to start with a smaller engine and boost the output when needed with turbocharging or supercharging; the other is to start with larger engines, then reduce the number of cylinders in operation to improve efficiency when less power is required.”
“We think the second approach is better suited to the way many owners use their trucks,“ summed Wilkinson.
GM argues that bigger is still better for trucks
To push their point, GM is pointing to ‘duty cycle’—or the way that a truck is used—as the reason why their new EcoTec3 engines might be better for more shoppers.
At the introduction of GM’s 2014 pickups last month, the company argued that its trucks are better on fuel than Ford’s when towing and hauling (EPA ratings are run without a load).
“With these engines, we can control detonation without having to aggressively retard the spark...or overly richen the fuel mixture,” said executive chief engineer Jeff Luke, going on to note the “complex hardware” in the Ford engines.
But Ford is offering both a 5.0-liter V-8 and a 3.7-liter V-6 in addition to the EcoBoost engine, so shoppers who drive under load every day have other options.
“Clearly duty cycle is a big decider of what’s the right engine choice for you; not only what specific powertrain but also what kind of truck you want to order, or moving up to a Super Duty,” said Raj Nair, Ford Group VP for Global Product Development. “So it’s a discussion we have with our customers, with our personal-duty customers we have in the showroom and our fleet customers who we talk to in Dearborn and other places.”