Ford emphasizes technology and new models for Europe

  • 21-Sep-2012 03:17 EDT
Ford8-12next  Mondeo.jpg

The next generation Mondeo will be available as a hybrid and with a 1.0-L EcoBoost engine.

New multidiscipline technologies, pursuit of enhanced quality, and aggressive engineering solutions to downsizing and environmental challenges are the stuff of Ford under the stewardship of CEO Alan Mulally. That was the message he took to Europe when he addressed 2500 dealers and company employees in Amsterdam under the banner “Go Further.” That motto can be interpreted as investment, model range expansion, and confidence. The total European vehicle market including Russia is expected to grow by some 20% over the next five years despite the continuing economic crisis.

To make the point, the company wheeled on stage a fleet of new models that will be coming to showrooms across Europe and the world soon—including the stylish next-generation Mondeo on a global CD platform. It will be offered in several versions including a low-emissions gasoline hybrid with a 2.0-L engine and 35-kW lithium-battery powered electric motor and with Ford’s energy-dense three-cylinder 1.0-L 92-kW (123-hp) EcoBoost engine—a very small capacity unit for a relatively large car. An all-wheel drive diesel is also planned. The car will have the Sync voice-activated connectivity system with MyFord Touch, rear inflatable seatbelts, and active headlamps with LEDs for high and low beams.

In a rousing address, Mulally said the company has transitioned from surviving to growing in the six years of the company's “One Ford” plan: “One Ford is the driver of profitable growth across all regions of the world. We are now going to accelerate the implementation of our One Ford plan in Europe; 43% of our European lineup now comprises global vehicles. This will increase to 71% in 5 years.”

Although the finer details of the forthcoming models were noticeably lacking in the Amsterdam presentation, there was sufficient promise of their technological capability—including the planned introduction as standard by 2015 in Europe of the Sync communication system—to gain plaudits from his audience.

As well as the new Mondeo, a refreshed Fiesta including a 134-kW (180-hp) ST version, a full lineup of SUVs, the introduction of the Mustang to Europe engineered and developed for right- and left-hand drive, plus major changes to the company’s commercial vehicle range were listed. All this adds up to Ford investing its way through the financial crisis in Europe much as it did in the U.S.

The next-generation Kuga will be followed by the Fiesta-based EcoSport within 18 months. Ford also plans to bring its Edge to Europe. Sales and Marketing Vice President Jim Farley says that SUVs are the only segment to have grown in Europe in the past five years and are expected to double in the next five.

The 1.0-L EcoBoost unit will play a starring role through all of this, powering several models. It is now specified in some 30% of Focus sales. In the Mondeo (which should return CO2 emissions of less than 130 g/km), the figure is likely to be far less—possibly not even in to double figures, according to some Ford insiders—but still sufficient to make it a viable choice and help production of the engine reach 800,000 units per annum by 2015.

Andrew Fraser, a senior executive within Ford’s global powertrain team says power outputs above the current 92 kW of the 1.0-L EcoBoost are certainly feasible. A Formula Ford single-seater has been fitted with the unit tuned to 162 kW (217 hp) as a technical demonstrator, and the small engine HyBoost project with Ricardo saw 115 kW (154 hp) achieved.

But it does not look likely at present that Ford will go for an even smaller capacity engine. Less capacity means less torque, which leads to shorter gearing and a subsequent increase in emissions. “The 1.0-L is the absolute sweet spot,” said Fraser.

The most difficult problems faced with the engine’s wide use has been getting sufficient low-end torque (from 1400 rpm) and a really “solid” launch with clutch engagement and required NVH levels without a balance shaft. This was achieved via an out-of-balance flywheel and pulley system instead.

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