by Tony Whitney
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The Ford Motor Company has just announced a new V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission that will power two of its future products. The new 3.5-litre V6 produces 250-horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Like many of its rivals it has dual overhead cams and also intake variable cam timing (iVCT). This timing system is one of those amazing pieces of current automotive technology that gets what my mother always called “a quart out of a pint pot.” The Ford engine optimises fuel economy and does so without any sacrifice of power. It also runs even cleaner than earlier designs and will handle mandated emission requirements for years to come. The iVCT system makes use of a hydraulically actuated spool that’s capable of rotating the intake camshafts up to 40-degrees within half a second – performance that makes the whole operation very
The end result is a powerful engine that consumes less fuel than older engines with less torque and response. The engine has been designed to accept a turbocharger and can be used in a gas-electric hybrid, hinting at some interesting vehicles from Ford a little way down the road.
Other progressive aspects of the new engine include reduced raw material needs, and more accurate control of casting the various component parts. Cast parts are key elements of any automotive powerplant and if they’re not of very high quality, overall engine
performance will never reach the heights designers aspire to.
The new engine will first appear in the Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator
crossover utility vehicles which will make their debut in January at the Detroit auto show. According to Ford, one in five of its products will use an engine like this in the years ahead.
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Ford has some interesting news on the transmission front too, with a new 6-speed transaxle about to appear on some products. In recent years, automakers have gradually upped the number of ratios available with both manual and automatic transmissions. Many vehicles now have 5-speed automatic transmissions and 6-speed manual gearboxes are common on performance cars.
Ford’s 6-speed automatic promises to improve both performance and fuel economy. Ford says thaat for every 500,000 6-speeds (rather than traditional 4-speeds) fitted to vehicles, 12-million gallons of fuel can be saved annually. This is based on U.S. 25 mpg fuel economy for 15,000 miles.
6F 6-speed automatic transmission. Click image to enlarge
Ford points out that these performance and economy enhancements come from a wide span of 6.04 between the transaxle’s highest and lowest gear ratio. Ford says that this high ratio helps deliver fuel economy improvements of up to 7-percent and also improved “sustained acceleration” compared with a typical 4-speed automatic of older
design. Also claimed are smoother, quieter and more refined shifts.
Like the new V6, the 6F transmission, as Ford calls it, will first appear in the Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator.
On the Hybrid front, Ford has made a vow to put 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year on the road by 2010 and indicates that work is under way on a third-generation hybrid transaxle to be developed using the company’s in-house hybrid expertise. Interestingly, this transmission can be applied to either 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines, so this again hints of fascinating vehicles to come.
Ford’s Escape Hybrid compact SUV recently made its first appearance as a New York taxi – possibly one of the most abusive assignments any vehicle could face. The Escape will be the first hybrid cab to carry passengers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Coalition for Smart
Transportation have been involved in this initiative, which involves six vehicles, initially. Taxi service seems a “natural” for hybrid powertrains. With the price of gas nowadays, one wonders how cab firms can make a living with conventional cars, given that fare tariffs are still very reasonable.