In the wake of the last energy crisis, more than a quarter century ago, the big V-8 started to look like the automotive equivalent of a dinosaur. But as memories of gas lines faded, and consumers returned to their muscle cars, and as light truck sales soared to record levels, the V-8 underwent a phoenix-like comeback.
Now, with fuel prices again setting records, and with tough new federal mileage standards going into effect, eight-bangers are once again an endangered species. Take Ford Motor Co.’s new EcoBoost technology, which will debut in the new MKS sedan. Instead of offering a V-8, like much of the competition, Ford will deliver the same levels of power with a turbocharged, direct-injection V-6 delivering significantly better fuel economy.
And TheCarConnection.com has learned that Ford will soon offer a twin-turbocharged version of its EcoBoost (which was earlier given the working name TwinForce). A senior executive with the struggling carmaker tells me to look for the twin turbo to deliver in excess of 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. We’re hearing word a prototype may wind up appearing at the Ford exhibit at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.
Don’t be surprised to see a production twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost reach market in 2009 or 2010. Our sources indicate it would most likely debut on one of the brand’s sportier models, though that could mean either a sedan or even a crossover.
Could that mean on a new and long-awaited rear-wheel-drive platform? Global Product Development Director Derrick Kuzak wouldn’t respond, though he did confirm that the RWD model is under development for use somewhere “in the Ford enterprise,” which could mean Lincoln, Ford or even the weak Mercury marque, which could use something to get it off life support.
As for a V-8, Kuzak was only slightly more loose-lipped on that subject. There “will be a new V-8,” he acknowledged, adding that the plans call for its use on the truck side of the business. There are some models, like the big F-Series pickups, where you just can’t get by without all those cylinders on engines like the Triton, shown above.
Does that mean we won’t see EcoBoost show up in a Ford pickup or SUV? Not at all, several company officials noted, during a Tuesday evening dinner discussion. Take the single-turbo 3.5-liter version that will debut on the Lincoln MKS. Putting out 340 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, it will actually outperform many comparable truck V-8s, in terms of acceleration, towing and payload.
But there’s still the issue of image. And truck buyers – especially those in full-size pickups – tend to be a conservative lot. So getting them to forego the V-8s they’ve grown up with will be a hard sell. “That’s for Jim,” said Kuzak, referring to Jim Farley, Ford’s new marketing czar. He’s the one who’ll have to convince V-8 fans it’s better to switch than fight.
2008 Ford Explorer America Concept, Ford performs ute-reassignment surgery on a revered name. by TCC Team (2008-01-06)
Ford EcoBoost: V-8 Power from Six? Explorer America concept’s new engine offers greener future. by TCC Team (2008-01-06)
Farley Wants More Fords Soon, Company trying to launch new vehicles sooner. by Joseph Szczesny (2008-01-07)