Ford in the UK has confirmed its three-cylinder 1-litre Fox gasoline engine does have a cylinder block of compacted graphite iron (CGI).The turbocharged, direct injection engine is being built at Ford’s Camaçari engine plant in Brazil, which opened two years ago.
The CGI cylinder blocks are being shipped from the Joinville foundry of Tupy SA, also based in Brazil. The foundry specialises in casting CGI cylinder blocks for a wide range of passenger cars and commercial vehicle diesel engines. Tupy uses the SinterCast process technology to precisely control the formation of CGI.
It is understood this could be the first in-line gasoline engine to use CGI for cylinder blocks. The Ford 1-litre EcoBoost has won numerous "Engine of the Year" awards (below).
In 2002, SinterCast put forward its thesis of a “five-wave” strategy which it declared formulated the basis of how the overall market for large CGI engine components could develop – principally cylinder blocks and cylinder heads.
SinterCast projected that Wave 1 would signify the first type of engine to appear, moving progressively over a number of years to Wave 5. The launch of the 1-litre EcoBoost effectively signifies the launch of the fifth and final wave – Wave 5.
Other in-line diesel engines can now be expected to follow Ford’s example.
5 Waves of CGI introduction
Wave 1 focused on vee-diesels for passenger vehicles in Europe with Ford’s Dagenham Engine Plant being among the first to introduce vee diesels, namely the V6 2.7-litre Lion engine for Peugeot-Citroen, and JaguarLandRover.
Wave 2 covered worldwide commercial vehicle engines with DAF, Ford-Otosan, Hyundai, MAN and Navistar and Scania being the main customers. Wave 3 embraced in-line passenger vehicle diesel engines (this wave has yet to materialise) while Wave 4 focused on vee diesels in passenger vehicles beyond Europe. So this includes products from Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler Automotive (Dodge Ram with the VM Motori 3-litre V6 diesel) being the main contenders.
Wave 5, which takes in the latest Ford three-cylinder 1-litre EcoBoost engine, covers gasoline passenger vehicles worldwide. This wave offers potentially the largest number of CGI engines in production, though not necessarily the largest engine equivalents as passenger engine blocks are much smaller than commercial vehicle blocks.
It was expected at the outset in 2002 that Wave 5 would be the last to emerge with automakers less keen to introduce more expensive CGI cylinder block material until the full potential of the strength of grey iron had been fully exhausted.
Downsizing engines with CGI
But the push for more powerful downsized engines has tipped the balance in the direction of CGI which offers improved strength and fatigue resistance, with Ford again being the first to dip its toe into this market.
In the US, Ford is already installing V6 2.7-litre EcoBoost gasoline engines into the F-150 F-series pick-up truck and other applications are set to follow with enlarged versions.
The arrival of the EcoBoost engine in Brazil confirms Ford as the leading automaker (in terms of both technology and sheer numbers of engines produced per year) to implement CGI cylinder blocks – these stretch from the 1-litre gasoline EcoBoost at the bottom end to 6.7-litre and 9-litre diesel engines at the top end.
The appearance of the 125 bhp 1-litre EcoBoost will make the Ford Ka the most powerful vehicle in its category in Brazil. It will be offered in gasoline version only with a double-clutch six-speed transmission.
“Unlike Volkswagen, we have adapted our 1-litre EcoBoost engine to work without turbocharging or direct injection. Therefore, we were not required to make major adjustments or structural reinforcements to the turbocharged version,” claims Volker Heumann, chief engineer of powertrain, Ford South America.
Turbocharging by Continental
The EcoBoost engine uses turbochargers from Continental AG in Germany. The first Continental turbocharger went into series production in Ford’s Romanian-built 1-litre EcoBoost engine in 2011.
In 2014, Continental added another chapter to its three-cylinder success story with the world’s first passenger car turbocharger with an aluminum turbine housing. Working together with BMW engineers, Continental integrated the unit in the three-cylinder gasoline engine for the MINI Hatch.
At present only BorgWarner manufactures turbochargers in Brazil for gasoline engines, mainly for Volkswagen.
Turbocharging, direct fuel injection and twin-variable valve timing are present in all EcoBoost engines and represent proven technologies.
With the arrival of the 1-litre turbocharged unit Ford expects that from this year 30 per cent of its vehicle line in the Brazilian market will be offered with EcoBoost engines. Sales of Fiesta and Fusion will trigger increased engine factory throughput.
The EcoBoost family now has seven options stretching from the three- cylinder 1-litre, to the four-cylinder 1.5-litre, 1.6-litre, 2-litre and 2.3-litre to the V6 2.7-litre and 3.5-litre. These span the power range of 125 bhp to 350bhp.
Global standard of efficiency
“To obtain the maximum efficiency in these engine has led to the creation of some 275 patents and has built a global standard of success,” noted Rogelio Golfarb, vice president of strategy, communication and government relations for Ford South America.
Production of cars fitted with EcoBoost engines has risen from two million units in 2013 to reach six million in 2015. Ford officials expect the figure to reach 20 million by 2020. In contrast, General Motors has yet to make a move in the direction of CGI.
Ford, with its benchmark 1-litre EcoBoost, is among the first global vehicle manufacturers to reduce the size of gasoline engines through turbocharging and direct fuel injection as a means of increasing efficiency without performance loss.
“Legislation in many countries is increasingly imposing low limits for emissions, on the other hand consumers do not want to lose performance. So far, downsizing in conjunction with turbocharging has proved to be the solution that is the most cost-competitive in reaching both targets,” added Golfarb.
The EcoBoost 1-litre engine has almost the same engine power as the 1.6 Sigma TiVCT, but is about 20 per cent more economical and 20 per cent quicker. The turbocharger allows a maximum torque of 170 Nm to be reached at 1,400 rev/min, continuing up to 5,000 rev/min. In contrast, the 1.6-litre achieves the same up to only 4,000 rev/min.
Thus the new Fiesta 1-litre EcoBoost can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.6s whereas the 1.6-litre version does the same in 12.1 seconds.
In Europe, the 1.0 EcoBoost team already no less than 10 Ford models, including Fiesta, EcoSport, Focus, Mondeo and even some versions of the Transit van Courier.
"It's a small engine with a strong heart. Such a diversity of applications proves it,” concluded Heumann.COMMENT. Is it just conceivable that Ford executives carefully chose to introduce this version of Fox far away from prying eyes of the European automotive industry as is possible? Launched in Brazil, close to the foundry which not only casts the CGI block but can undertake pre-machining, Ford executives give themselves a chance to closely observe market reaction to a small, high performance iron engine (in Europe Ford makes the three-cylinder 1-litre engine at Craiova, Romania) in the South American market. The Ford plant in Brazil can also ramp up volumes gradually as operatives become more familiar with machining CGI material, ever able as always to draw on expertise gained at other Ford engine plants, namely Dagenham in the UK, Chihuahua in Mexico and Ford-Otosan’s plant in Turkey. If all goes well, then we can expect to see Tupy’s foundry in Brazil benefit further from this extraordinary development by Ford engineers, including those at the Dunton Engineering and Research Centre in the UK. It remains to be seen if Volkswagen AG rises to the challenge - and possibly even Daimler AG.
Congratulations for that SCOOP John. It´s been talked about since two years but not confirmed until now.
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