Detroit's Battle for Better, Smaller Engines

Detroit's Battle for Better, Smaller Engines http://tinyurl.com/3c5m6j
There is a new battle shaping up between General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) over engine superiority. And it's not the race for who can achieve
the highest horsepower. With gas prices expected to stay above $3 per gallon and pressure on automakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the new battle is over which companies can shrink their engines' sizes and displacements without compromising driving performance or leaving power-hungry customers behind.
What does this really mean? Gas-thirsty V-8 engines in passenger cars and crossover SUVs will soon be an endangered species. This fall, Ford will launch the first in a series of smaller engines it is calling gas turbocharged direct-injection engines, or GTDI engines. These engines, the first of which will appear in the 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan, will achieve a 15% improvement in fuel economy over Ford's current engines. Over the next five years, Ford expects to put 500,000 vehicles equipped with the new engines on the road worldwide, with faster growth after that.
Automakers, especially U.S. companies, have been locked in a mindset of "bigger and faster is always better" for decades. Indeed, horsepower wars have been seen as a close cousin to the trend of bigger, thirstier SUVs. The crescendo of this thinking was perhaps reached in 2003 when GM showed a concept car at the Detroit Auto Show, the Cadillac Sixteen, which achieved 1,000 hp. In a stark reversal, GM said this month that it is scuttling its plans to build a new V-8 engine for its passenger cars and will instead, like Ford, focus on high-performance V-6s. Pickup trucks and SUVs will continue to offer V-8s. Sales Boost?
The MKS sedan will be introduced with what Ford may call, for marketing purposes, the "EcoBoost" 3.5-liter twin-turbo direct-injection V-6, expected to produce 340 hp. This same engine will migrate to other Ford models including the Taurus, Edge, and Lincoln MKX crossover SUVs in 2009. The boost in fuel economy compared with a V-80- is 2 mpg, or about 15%. Ford also plans to use the engine technology in four-cylinder engines as a way to match performance with larger 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engines while getting 5 mpg better fuel economy than the V-6s achieve. And there is a 7% to 15% reduction in CO2 emissions per vehicle with an EcoBoost engine.
The EcoBoost engines don't pack the "wow" factor of, say, hybrids, which beat competitors in some cases by 15 to 20 mpg, or the promise of plug-ins, which will be able to go up to 40 miles on an electric charge. But Ford global product development chief Derrick Kuzak says Ford's new gas engine strategy will deliver major savings of gasoline and carbon dioxide emissions because of the millions of vehicles Ford sells worldwide each year.
Kuzak, a soft-spoken man who is a contrast to many Detroit product executives who trumpet the latest horsepower boost, hydrogen car, or futuristic design, is hoping that Ford's engine strategy will appeal to customers who do their homework on the Internet. According to Kuzak, a customer's initial investment in EcoBoost technology, which will cost a little more than standard engines, will be regained through fuel savingsless trips to the pumpin just 2.5 years. "That compares with more than seven years to recoup the price of a clean diesel engine and more than 11 years to get back the investment in a hybrid." Advocacy and Marketing
Part of the appeal of hybrids and diesels, though, up to now is "badge appeal." Buyers of Toyota's (TM) Prius and Volkswagen's (VLKAY) TDI diesel vehicles are not just consumers, they tend to be advocates. They not only want to be seen in their more fuel-efficient cars, they try to convert their friends. Ford's new chief marketing officer, Jim Farley, who came to the automaker after a career at Toyota, says marketing of the new technology will be key to success. "People will have to feel they are doing something for the planet as well as for themselves, and we have to figure out the right name, badging, and advertising to convey that," says Farley.
Dumping V-8 engines in passenger cars, especially premium and luxury cars, is a marketing risk, but perhaps one whose time has come. For two decades, Honda's (HMC) premium division, Acura, has not offered a V-8 in its flagship sedan, the RL. Before that, the Acura Legend sedan only went as high as a V-6. American Honda chief Tom Elliott has said on more than one occasion that the U.S. management team for the Japanese automaker has repeatedly made the case, to no avail, to their Japanese parent for a V-8 for both the RL and the Honda Ridgeline pickup.
The RL sold an anemic 6,262 units in 2007, down 45% from 2006. The Lexus LS (BusinessWeek.com, 2/14/07), which only comes in a V-8, by contrast, sold 35,000 units, up 75% from the year before.
Many buyers just can't accept that smaller is better. Ford, for example, when it launches a redesigned F-Series pickup this year, will no longer offer a V-6 engine, which had such a low purchase rate that Ford couldn't justify sticking the engines at the factories. A New Era
Oddly, though, GM is seeing signs that its Honda V-6 engine strategy is pointing the way to a new era. The new direct-injected V-6 in the 2008 Cadillac produces 305 hp, while its Northstar V-8 in the Cadillac DTS (BusinessWeek.com, 1/19/07) generates only 275. The fuel economy of the DTS, a slightly larger car, is 15 mpg city/23 highway, while the CTS (BusinessWeek.com, 10/22/07) is rated 17/26. The same high-performance V-6 could go into the DTS and improve fuel economy while boosting horsepower.
The Lexus LS sedan only comes in a V-8, generates 380 hp, and gets 16/24 mpg. Lexus clearly engineers its sedans for power and fuel economy in a smarter way than Detroit automakers.
Ford, which is launching gas-electric hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan later this year, is not making big promises of delivering more hybrids or plug-in cars at a certain date. But it is working on other improvements to whittle away at fuel economy. Kuzak says between 2012 and 2020, Ford figures to reduce the weight of vehicles between 250 lb. and 750 lb., depending on the vehicle, without compromising safety. Such savings can add a couple of miles to each gallon of gas. "No automaker can wait around for technology to arrive; we have to make the most of what we know and have now," says Kuzak.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jim Higgins wrote:

<snip>
that's great, but what about NVH?
Why is everyone concentrating on V6 engines and ignoring inlines and boxers?
I have to admit that I don't like V6 engines but simply because they seem fundamentally compromised from a balance standpoint, and it shows (in the seat of my pants.) I'd be perfectly happy with an inline or boxer six, or even a boxer four. Even the inline four in my 944 is smoother than many V6's (of course, it needs two balance shafts to accomplish that...)
Whatever happened to the inline six for the Trailblazer?
nate
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nate Nagel wrote:

Have you driven a Nissan VQ35DE? One smooth motor, listed on the 10 best motors list for 15 years straight or so.
b
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'll take my 3800 II L67 over any other engine any day. The 3800 design is listed as one of the best engines of the 20th century.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
80 Knight wrote:

pulls like a beech all the way to 7000 rpm. Very torquey as well.
The 3.8 is a pretty good motor. Esp the old turbo 3.8 in the Grand Nat'l
Here is a link to the Ward's winners, 13th straight year for the VQ35
http://wardsauto.com/reports/2007/tenbest /
b
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Brent wrote:

funny that the #1 on that list is this one:
http://wardsauto.com/reports/2007/tenbest/audi_2l_i-4 /
I used to have a GTI 1.8T simply because of that engine's predecessor. The chassis was nothing to write home about - very refined and comfortable, but not a real GTI - but that engine could put a stupid grin on your face at any time.
http://wardsauto.com/reports/2007/tenbest/bmw_3l_i-6 /
I noticed two different BMW straight sixes on the list... and rightfully so. I wish GM, Ford, et. al. would stop looking to Japan for their design cues and concentrate on the engine architectures that they used to be rightfully famous for, namely straight sixes and V-8s (although the latter are probably permanently out of fashion for all but trucks and performance cars.) Too bad BMW is already doing it better :(
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sounds pretty impressive. What kind of gas mileage do they get?

I've never been in a Grand National, that I can recall. A few Regals, dressed up to look like the National's, but they all had the standard 3.8. An old neighbour did have an '87 (or so) National though. I didn't know him well enough to have rode in the car, but the thing sure as hell sounded nice.

Thanks for the link. Looks like for those into Nissan's, this is the engine to go with.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
80 Knight wrote:

About as good as you expect for a 300 HP motor ;-) 17/25 or so.

Everytime I came up against one of those at the track in my old Z28 or TA I got my butt whooped. Those things would turn 12's for nothing. Didn't handle for crap but they could blast in a straight line ;-) S'posed to take flight at about 130 so they were limited to 124MPH

They stick this motor in everything. It's amazingly bulletproof. 250-300K miles is nothing special.
b
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
80 Knight wrote:

I've ridden in a new-ish G35, I assume that is the engine the first responder is talking about, and yes, it was smooth but still sounded like a V-6 so it turned me off somewhat. The 3800 is a good engine, but it isn't creamy smooth like an inline nor does it have a particularly pleasant exhaust sound. The 3400 in my Impala... not a big fan, although I haven't had any of the intake manifold issues (knock on wood.) It's very loud for its power output, and not smooth at all.
The straight six in my old BMW 535i... yeah baby.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That depends on the configuration of the exhaust system. Since I don't "riceout" my car, mine is stock, but I find the sound quite nice. Though, I think I still miss the sound of the old Pontiac 6000's that we used to have. I don't know what it was, but if you could keep the exhaust from rusting out, it was one of the best sounding cars I have ever driven. As for the smoothness, I can see where you are coming from. I personally think the L67 is perfect, but then again, out of the 11 cars I have owned, only 1 had an engine that wasn't in the 3.1/3.4/3.8L family, so I guess you could say I am used to it. The car that didn't have that type of engine was my old '82 Trans Am. That car had the good 'ol 305 with a 4-speed manual. Roughly 86,404 KM's (roughly 54,000 miles) on it the day I bought it in 1999. Everything original, right down to the battery. Man I loved that car. Last time I talked to the current owner, he was getting along quite well with his "Knight Rider" conversion of the car.

Yup, those 3400's can be a pain in the ass. My sister has one in her '03 Grand Am. The thing can move, but you sure hear it. She is almost at 100,000 KM's (62,000 miles), and hasn't had the intake issues either (knock on wood).

Now that sir, is a totally different ball game. <g>
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
80 Knight wrote:

I tag along on the 3800-II. Have owned that engine in a Regal and a couple of LeSabres.
While not the smoothest idling engine, it's nice on the road and produces better highway mileage than advertised by GM or the EPA -- on regular gas.
Turned in a leased G35 and didn't replace it. Poor highway mileage, need for premium etc.
However, Nissan's specs are impressive.
3800 loafs along at 65mph with turns well below the Nissan. Friction increases with the square of velocity--multiply that by the extra bearing area in Nissan's overhead cam layout and it's easy to figure why gas mileage is 20-30% better in the LeSabre.
Agree on the virtues of straight-6 engines. Issue though is that they tend to increase the weight of the automobile. -- pj
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.