Three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine gets the ability to run as a twin under light throttle loads, improving fuel economy by up to 6%
Matt Burt
29 November 2016

The three-cylinder Ford 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is to be offered with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology that will enable it to operate as a two-cylinder unit.

Similar technology is seen on many four-cylinder engines, but Ford claims this is the first time it has been engineered into a three-pot. Some manufacturers have dismissed the idea, citing refinement as one of the main issues, but Ford hasn’t been deterred.

Cylinder deactivation will automatically stop fuel delivery and valve operation for one of the engine’s cylinders under conditions where full capacity is not needed, such as when coasting or cruising with light demand on the engine. The technology can disengage or re-engage one cylinder in 14 milliseconds.

Read more - Ford to start testing autonomous cars on European roads

Capable of operating at speeds of up to 4500rpm, the system uses engine oil pressure to activate a special valve rocker and interrupt the connection between the camshaft and the valves of cylinder number one. Software uses factors including speed, throttle position and engine load to determine when to deactivate the cylinder.

The 1.0-litre Ecoboost - first introduced in 2012 - has a new single-piece camshaft module that has freed up space within the cylinder head for new oil channels and valve-switching componentry.

Ford engineers predict that the system will be active for a few seconds at a time in most driving scenarios and has the potential to improve fuel efficiency by up to 6%. 

Installed in the current Fiesta, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost in 98bhp form is capable of a claimed combined economy of 65.7mpg, so a 6% improvement could take that figure to 69.6mpg.

Ford said it has “devised advanced solutions to counteract vibrations and ensure that cylinder deactivation is imperceptible to drivers in terms of operation and engine performance”.

The technology will be tested throughout 2017 and be made available for sale in 2018, although Ford hasn’t confirmed which car model will be the first to benefit from it. At present 11 Ford models – the Fiesta, Ecosport, B-Max, Focus, C-Max, Grand C Max, Tourneo and Transit Connect, Tourneo and Transit Courier and Mondeo – are available in Europe with the three-cylinder engine.

With the 1.0-litre Ecoboost available in three power ratings, Ford also has yet to confirm which of them will receive the cylinder deactivation technology.

The system uses an offset crankshaft configuration and deliberately ‘unbalanced’ flywheel and pulley that counteract vibration. The new dual-mass flywheel and a vibration-damping clutch disc help neutralise engine oscillations when the engine is running on two cylinders, especially at lower revs, and enable a wider operating range.

Intake and exhaust valves are closed when the system is active, trapping gases to provide a spring effect that helps balance forces across the three cylinders for refinement and also retain temperatures inside the cylinder that maintain fuel efficiency when reactivated.

New engine mounts, drive shafts and suspension bushes also will be specially tuned for refinement when the revised 1.0-litre Ecoboost is installed in a car.

The engine has also been made more durable to cope with the different loading forces resulting from cylinder deactivation, with uprated parts including a new camshaft chain, and valve rockers formed using advanced metal injection moulding.

The system was developed by Ford engineers in the UK, Germany and US, in collaboration with the Schaeffler Group, an engineering partner.

Bob Fascetti, Ford Motor Company’s global powertrain engineering boss said the engine was proof that "there is still untapped potential for even the best internal combustion engines to deliver better fuel efficiency for customers.”

Read more - 2017 Ford Fiesta revealed

Read more - Ford to begin testing autonomous cars on European roads

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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Comments
2

30 November 2016
With this new iteration of the Fiesta Ford has once again shot themselves in the foot!
Gone are the fiesta's distinguished tail lights, and the smooth lines in comes the boxy minivan look, I just hope they realise that the customer base is increasingly fed up with their taking for granted the success of the previous Fiestas could in itself be its downfall.

Ford has certainly scored an own goal here- it was the prime time for a total refresh and bold styling that would've move the bar up a notch but instead is copying VW for what they are good at, conservative and steady styling changes... People buy Ford for the exact opposite reasons, and yet the so-called brains at Ford has not worked that out?

Be different is soon forgotten in the car industry- shame really.

30 November 2016
The styling may be predictable, but at least this engine is interesting. I find it hard to understand why cylinder deactivation hasn't been used more widely, but Ford's timing isn't great with a new more realistic fuel consumption test soon to be introduced - and the UK about to discard the CO2 based road fund license system. I wonder why the system shuts down cylinder one rather than the middle cylinder? Presumably this is due to balance considerations being more important than thermal ones - but it would be good to know.

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