I want to begin the post regarding Ford’s important and amazing ECOnetic Technology by talking about Toyota Prius. When Toyota launched it in the year 1997 in Japan (worldwide launch in the year 2000), everyone took notice. It was the world’s first mass produced hybrid vehicle, and it sent automobile manufacturers into a craziy frenzy, to come up with their own versions of technology of the future. The Green car was conceived.
But there is something which I can’t say is unimportant – ‘Prius’. Prius is a Latin word meaning “before”. According to Toyota, the name was chosen because Prius was launched before environmental awareness became a mainstream social issue.
Toyota’s foresight deserves an applause. A foresight, which in the future would give birth to several inventions, innovations and technologies to make vehicles more efficient and more environment friendly, and try and reduce the ever increasing demand of one commodity – Fuel.
Let’s fast forward to 2014. We are already living the future Toyota was ready for. Hybrid technology now sees production application in vehicles ranging from small city runabout sedans to track bred high end hypercars.
Most major automobile manufacturers have worked or are working on a fuel-electric hybrid system for their car models, thus making them appeal to a wider, greener audience. So is driving a car powered only by an engine the automotive equivalent of the London Tube being driven by a diesel locomotive? Ford disagrees..
From the last quarter of 2012, a majority of Ford cars in Europe came with small plastic silver piece plastered somewhere on the rear of the car, and it read ‘ECOnetic Technology’ . This badge is Ford’s way of providing assurance to the world saying “Hey, you don’t have to go hybrid to go green!”.
The ECOnetic name is the result of marketing gurus’ combining the word “ecological” with Ford of Europe’s “kinetic design” mantra. Cars having this badge (almost all models Ford sells in Europe have a ECOnetic variant) retain their traditional design and driving dynamics while also being even more fuel efficient, reducing emissions and overall lowering the cost-of-ownership.
The development of the ECOnetic Technology was a resultant of Ford’s focus on three major aspects:
(1) Aerodynamics (2) Resistance (3) Efficiency
Gaining maximum possible control on each was a groundbreaking journey at Ford, and that led to several new systems being introduced, car designs being altered, engines being tweaked and newer materials being explored, all being done to achieve a simple quest – making cars greener.
Victory was theirs. Sales in Europe have been on a constant rise, and Ford cars are often seen an a viable alternative to its European counterparts.
Moving on to the fruits of their labour: the technologies that make a Ford deserving of the silver ‘ECOnetic Technology’ badge being stuck onto it-
Auto-Start-Stop automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stationary and in neutral gear and restarts the engine when the driver wants to move off, saving the fuel usually wasted while the vehicle is stationary. The system can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10 per cent in an urban environment.
Active Grille Shutter
An electronically controlled grille opens automatically depending on engine condition and driving speed, to improve air flow efficiency and lower fuel consumption. Additionally, the Active Grille Shutter helps the engine to warm up more quickly in cold weather.
Duratorq TDCI engines
Ford’s diesel engines use the latest advanced technology to deliver performance with outstanding fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. The Focus ECOnetic Technology for example is offered with a smooth and responsive 105PS 1.6 Duratorq TDCi diesel engine, yet still offers CO2 emissions of only 88g/km.
The system monitors a driver’s behaviour and provides clear feedback about their eco-driving performance, along with simple tips about how to save more fuel. A flower graphic in the instrument cluster display allows drivers to track their progress in the three key areas of gear shifting, anticipation and speed. Fuel savings of around 10 per cent are possible.
EcoBoost is Ford’s family of direct injection, turbocharged petrol engines. They provide the performance of a larger engine with the fuel economy and CO2-emission benefits of a smaller engine. In short, more power, less fuel.
Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
EPAS offers lighter steering in parking situations and firmer steering at higher speeds for assured control. Unlike conventional systems Ford’s EPAS only operates when it is required, further enhancing fuel economy.
This is a state-of-the-art six-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission, that cleverly selects the next appropriate gear with no disruption to the flow of power. This optimises efficiency and fuel consumption, but there is also a sport mode that allows drivers to switch gears at the flick of the gearshift for more dynamic performance.
Gear shift indicator
The system monitors driving, taking into account road gradient, vehicle load and your individual driving style, to identify the most suitable and fuel efficient gear change point, indicated by a light in the instrument panel.
Lean NOX adsorbing technology
Fitted to the diesel engine, a special catalytic converter called a NOx trap helps reduce CO2 emissions by facilitating a leaner combustion process using a higher proportion of air to fuel.
Low friction engine and transmission oils
Lower friction engine and transmission oils mean less friction and more efficient the engine or transmission processes. Efficiencies here mean improved fuel consumption.
Low rolling resistance tyres
These minimize wasted energy as a tyre rolls, because the required effort needed for them to roll is decreased. This helps improve fuel efficiency, yet offers comparable performance and durability to conventional tyres. Ford worked with Michelin to create a thinner tyre with lower rolling resistance.
Low tension FEAD
Improved front end accessory drive (FEAD), the part of the engine that drives the oil pump, alternator and air conditioning compressor. Use of a lower tension drive belt reduces friction in the entire system and further helps improve fuel economy.
Smart Regenerative Charging
Smart Regenerative Charging captures ‘free’ electrical energy when drivers brake, which is then fed back into the vehicle battery. This maintains efficient battery charge levels which reduces overall fuel use. An advanced battery management system continually monitors the charging status so regenerative charging adds to the battery in the most optimal way.
Thermal management systems
TMS helps the engine to reach maximum operating efficiency in minimum time, increasing fuel efficiency and lowering emissions.
Specially developed undershields improve air flow under the car body which helps improve fuel economy. Models also use lowered suspension and aerodynamic wheel covers to further improve efficiency. Eg: in the case of the Focus by 10 millimetres (0.39 in) on the front, and 8 millimetres (0.31 in) on the rear. To the side, skirts are introduced together with hubcaps designed to improve airflow. A new and extended rear spoiler reduces rear drag.
In a fuel and price conscious market like India, introducing their ECOnetic models makes a lot of sense for Ford, in many ways. They can not only have fuel efficient models in their range to compete against the Japs, but it will also work in a big way in changing Fords’ brand image in India. However, with only a 2.74% share of the passenger car market in India, only Ford India can answer if any of this will ever filter down to the Indian market.
We have heard news about plans for the EcoBoost engine being localised in India, and also faint news about the word ECOnetic.
Lets wait and watch then, just keep your fingers crossed!