Friday 28 March 2014

Lima wins 2.7-litre EcoBoost CGI engine bid

Ford Motor Company’s Lima Engine Plant, Ohio, has won the bid to upgrade facilities to build the all-new 2.7-Liter EcoBoost gasoline engine for the 2015 F-150 pick-up trucks.

Ford will invest US$500 million to support production facilities in the plant and create 300 jobs. The plant will be the first to manufacture a gasoline vee engine with a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block.

Indeed, the 2.7-litre EcoBoost is now the smallest engine in the pick-up truck sector while still providing the power of a mid-range V8.  This unique introduction demonstrates the downsizing capabilities of CGI and confirms the first-ever high volume application of CGI for a gasoline engine cylinder block.

The 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost delivers the performance of a mid-range V8 gasoline engine but with greater efficiency, and builds on strong sales of V6 engine-equipped F-150.

Ford’s investment in Lima follows an announcement in early March that the company will shift production of Ford F-650/F-750 medium-duty trucks from Mexico to Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, in the Cleveland area, early next year.

                                        Lima Engine Plant

The Lima Engine Plant produces the 3.5-litre and 3.7-litre Duratec V6 engines for multiple Ford vehicles including Edge and Explorer utilities, as well as the Lincoln MKX crossover, MKT utility and MKZ sedan.

The new US$500 million investment will go to a new flexible engine assembly system and renovation of 700,000 square feet of the facility for machining and assembly functions.

MAG-IAS is likely to have won the contract to provide the majority of new machining capability. On 8 March 2013, the shareholders of MAG-IAG agreed to the acquisition of the company by Fives, the French engineering group, based in Paris. No announcement has been made.

“Lima Engine has kept Ford and Lincoln vehicles running for nearly 60 years,” said Bruce Hettle, Ford vice president, North America manufacturing. “Bringing production of the new 2.7-litre EcoBoost to Lima Engine Plant helps build a solid future both for Ford and the dedicated workers in Ohio.”

The Lima Engine Plant opened in 1957 and now employs more than 900 people. It is one of the largest employers in Allen County. On March 13, the plant built its three-millionth Duratec V6, and later this year the 40-millionth engine produced at the plant will roll off the assembly line.

“The new jobs at Lima Engine Plant will be a major boost to the community, and continue F-150’s reputation as one of the most American-made vehicles,” said Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, National Ford Department. “It’s especially exciting that these jobs will go to support a new technology like the 2.7-liter EcoBoost for the all-new F-150.”

This new EcoBoost engine builds on recording-breaking customer demand for F-150 pickups equipped with V6 engines. In fact, 57 percent of new customers in 2014 have opted for either a 3.7-litre V6 or 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost to power their new F-150.

Since 2010, retail registrations of light-duty pickups with V6 engines have grown more than 600 percent, with Ford F-150 directly responsible for 91 percent of this growth, according to Ford analysis of Polk retail new vehicle registration data from IHS Automotive.

“Our truck customers have spoken, and we continue to meet their evolving needs by providing another V6 option in the all-new 2015 F-150,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “The hardworking team at Lima Engine is thrilled to begin building one of the most technologically advanced engines ever designed for America’s No. 1 truck.”
                                          Boost for CGI

The high-output, twin-turbo 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost features a new design that delivers power and performance in a strong and smart package for the 2015 Ford F-150.

The materials used to make the new V6 EcoBoost enable its fuel efficiency, according to Ford. Most notably, the engine uses a CGI engine cylinder block, the same material used in Ford’s 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbo-diesel V8 built at the Chihuahua Engine Plant, Mexico. The combination of CGI and the aluminium cylinder heads are the greatest single weight-saver while providing strength where it is needed most for durability.

As we revealed exclusively this week, specialist UK family-owned powertrain specialist Grainger & Worrall of Bridgnorth, Shropshire produced the 200 to 300 prototype CGI cylinder blocks for this ground-breaking engine.

The engine breaks new ground as it is the first high-volume vee gasoline engine to adopt CGI material for the cylinder block. It is understood that in addition to its properties of high strength, thermal conductivity and NVH characteristics, CGI allows engineers to fracture-split the big end bearings adding to the low-friction features of the engine.

Indeed, according to Ford this is the first use of fracture-split main-bearing caps, which the company claims create a superior fit between the cap and engine block for reduced crankshaft friction to help improve efficiency.

However, it is known that MAN’s two commercial vehicle engines which have CGI in-line six-cylinder blocks in CGI also use fracture-split main bearing caps. The Ford EcoBoost engine is certainly the first of its size to use this technology.

Other weight-enhancing features include all-new aluminium cylinder heads that feature water-cooled integrated exhaust manifolds; a variable displacement oil pump that further reduces internal engine friction to improve fuel economy; intake and exhaust variable cam timing to improves torque while helping lower emissions; a lightweight, durable composite intake manifold; and cooling jets beneath the pistons that spray oil on the pistons to help lower operating temperatures. The engine’s connecting rods use an offset I-beam to provides improved strength to manage peak engine power levels while reducing weight for better responsiveness 

As yet public no announcement has been made by Ford or the foundry concerned to declare the identity of the foundry with the contract to produce the CGI blocks for the 2.7-littre EcoBoost. On the basis that Tupy SA in Joinville, Brazil supplies vee engine blocks for the 6.7-litre Power Stroke built in Chihuahua, some observers suggest the assumption can be made that Tupy has been successful in its bid and will supply from Mexico

Significantly in this regard, in SinterCast’s fourth quarter 2013 results, the company’s chief executive officer, Steve Dawson wrote: “During the fourth quarter, SinterCast began series production of the world’s first high volume CGI petrol engine at the Tupy foundry in Saltillo, Mexico. The engine was revealed by Ford at the 2014 North American International Auto Show on 13 January, as an integral component of the 2015 F150 pick-up truck, and a key contributor to the saving of up to 700lb (318kg) compared to the 2014 model. The 2.7L CGI V6 was heralded as a “game changer” in the industry and, with application in North America’s best-selling vehicle, provides a high profile first reference for CGI in petrol applications.”

Ford appears to be somewhat measured in its control of information that is being released about the new EcoBoost. As yet no power and torque figures have been given out. Further information will be forthcoming. However, Tupy is the world’s leading supplier of CGI engine blocks.

Standard Auto Start-Stop technology boosts fuel efficiency and is specially tuned for truck customers. Auto Start-Stop turns the engine off automatically when the vehicle is at a stop – except when towing or in four-wheel-drive mode. The engine quickly restarts once the driver releases the brake.

Meanwhile, the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 is tougher, smarter and more capable than ever. It’s completely redesigned – establishing a new standard for full-sized pickups by bringing together improved capability, fuel efficiency and cutting-edge smart vehicle technology.

Using advanced materials – including more high-strength steel than ever in the frame and high-strength, military-grade, aluminium alloy throughout the body – improves durability while saving as much as 700lb, giving truck customers greater towing, payload and fuel efficiency performance.

When it goes on sale late this year, the all-new Ford F-150 will have undergone more than 10 million miles of torture testing to ensure it meets or exceeds Built Ford Tough standards.

Along with the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost, the new F-150 will feature a complete line-up of powertrains to let customers tailor the nation’s best-selling truck to their needs. The 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine returns, an all-new normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 debuts and there is an improved 5.0-litre V8.

In the three years since Ford launched the 3.5-litre EcoBoost in F-150, the company has sold more than 2 million EcoBoost-powered vehicles; EcoBoost is now the most recognized fuel-efficient engine among consumers.

Ford sells approximately 100,000 EcoBoost vehicles monthly around the world, equating to roughly one out of five Ford vehicles sold.

Since 2011, Ford has sold more than 450,000 F-150 trucks equipped with EcoBoost. Through the first two months of 2014, the V6 EcoBoost engine has accounted for approximately 46 percent of F-150 sales.                          

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