Although Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has been widely lambasted for his 2008 comment about driving U.S. gasoline prices to levels like those experienced in Europe—a comment that he has subsequently said he no longer believes to be germane—the fact of the matter is that gas prices in Europe are rather stiff. A liter of gas in Germany costs about $2.15, so with 3.7 liters in a gallon. . . .
One consequence of this high price of fuel is an announcement just made by Ford of Europe that it is more than tripling the number of EcoBoost engines in its lineup, going from 141,000 units in 2011 to some 480,000 by 2015.
What’s more astonishing is that of total annual output, more than 300,000 vehicles will be equipped with 1.0-liter EcoBoost engines.
Yes, a 1.0-liter engine.
A three-cylinder engine.
Between 2012 and 2015, they plan to produce 800,000 cars with the 1.0-liter engine.
This small EcoBoost—the smallest engine built by Ford anywhere—was developed at Ford’s Dunton Technical Center in the U.K. (gas is ~$2.27 a liter in the U.K.). It is direct injected and features a turbocharger. The exhaust manifold is cast into the cylinder head. The block is cast iron rather than aluminum; the reason is they want to reduce the amount of energy for warm-up, with the heat transfer being facilitated by the ferrous material. There are two versions, a 99-hp and a 118-hp 1-liter.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost is produced at Ford’s plants in Cologne, Germany, and, at a new plant in Craiova, Romania. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is manufactured at Bridgend, Wales, and 2.0-liter EcoBoosts are built in Valencia, Spain.
Clearly, efficiency matters when gas prices are high.
It’s worth noting that there are some 180,000 EcoBoost-powered cars running in North America. One can only assume that that number will rise right along with the need for improved fuel efficiency.