1.0-litre Ecoboost: Smaller, faster, stronger

Bigger engine, more power. Right? Wrong. A new generation of compact petrol engines could transform the car industry, and help the environment, too

Essex is Ford country. Park at the company's technical centre in Dunton and you'll see just about every model the American giant produces. Don't breathe too deeply though; it's 28 miles from London's diesel-guzzling black cabs, belching red buses and thirsty Chelsea tractors and only six miles along the busy A127 to the gyratory of gridlock that is the M25. It's no wonder that down the road the once-gleaming Basildon town sign (erected in the style of its more famous Hollywood rival) has taken on a slightly grey hue. For Essex, like the rest of the county, shows little sign of falling out of love with the car as new sales, and particularly sales of diesels, defy the recession and grow.

With diesel sales soaring (they now make up the majority of sales) it might seem like a risky moment for Ford, which is struggling to make a profit in Europe, to launch a new small petrol engine in the form of its 1.0-litre Ecoboost. Especially when just 15 miles from the Fiesta and Focus-packed car park at Dunton is Ford's Dagenham plant, which produces one million diesel engines a year. Diesel and Dagenham has been central to Ford's dominant market share in the past (it still sells one of every seven new cars), and like most other major manufacturers its diesel engines have been "downsized" and fitted to smaller models – many diesels emit less than 99g of carbon per kilometre (g/km) and are rewarded with vehicle excise duty and congestion charge-free motoring.

This economy has come at a price. While smaller cars and diesel engines have helped average vehicle CO2 emissions drop since 2009, figures from the Department for Transport show that harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions for diesel cars are twice that of petrol engines, while particulate emissions, which can be inhaled deep into the respiratory system, are 22 times higher. The two emissions contribute significantly to air pollution and breathing difficulties, says Simon Birkett, the founder of the Campaign for Clean Air in London. And, according to a survey released last week by MIT in Massachusetts, they help cause an estimated 5,000 premature deaths from road pollution in the UK each year.

"The Government has failed catastrophically to tackle harmful emissions from diesel vehicles. Some leaders, such as Boris Johnson, have actually given strong financial incentives to buy diesel vehicles in cities," Birkett says. "The health impact of long-term exposure to invisible particulate emissions is of the same scale as the problem we thought we had from short-term exposure to the Great Smog of 1952 but unlike then, the Government and London's Mayor are doing nothing about it."

Back at Dunton, Ford's technical engineers think they have part of the solution with the new Focus fitted with the 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine. The model, which is starting to roll off Ford dealership forecourts this week, only uses three cylinders and just 999cc to produce 123bhp and a fuel economy and emissions normally associated with a much smaller, less-powerful vehicle. It does this by reducing the engine capacity and adding direct fuel injection, a turbocharger and variable-cam timing to outperform a larger engines.

"The technology is complex and borrows from performance cars," says Andrew Fraser, the head of Powertrain Development for Ford at Dunton, says. "The key liberating factor though has been the turbocharging of a smaller engine, which is the use of exhaust gases to drive a turbine to force more air thorough the engine which gives the power and torque... that traditionally only a much larger engine would have had." Fraser's team also worked on the engine to make sure it used direct fuel injection – fuel sprayed at high pressure into the cylinder, something "you'd normally expect to find on a Ferrari 458 rather than a mainstream Ford" – and a twin variable cam shaft configuration. "One of our goals is to make the technology cost effective for the average customer," he says. "Companies like BMW are doing brilliant things with two or three turbochargers but that drives up prices."

Of course, Ford has a lot to gain by portraying itself as a "green" car company and that manufacturer's mileage standard should always be taken with an unhealthy-sized pinch of salt, but the company expects to shift the Ecoboost in serious numbers (800,000 by 2015). And other manufactures are not far behind. Vauxhall is replacing its petrol engine line-up in the next 12 months and pretty much all the major car companies have smaller engines planned or on sale. Even the luxury behemoth Bentley is offering its £140,000 Continental GT with a smaller 4.0-litre V8 engine. Petrol heads and Jeremy Clarkson might have a fit, but when it comes to petrol engines, less is more.

Engine power: A beginner's guide

What does 1.0-litre mean anyway?

The litres of an engine refer to the amount of volume that its pistons sweep as they go up and down in a cylinder. The 1.0 Ecoboost has three cylinders, so imagine each of those as about the size of a Coke can and you see how it produces a litre of capacity. It turns out 123 brake horsepower of work and 125lb of torque, which is plenty and all you'll need to convince your friends you know what you're talking about.

What is a cylinder again? I'm lost

A cylinder is where pistons move up and down. As the piston moves, it creates a combustion chamber into which fuel and air are drawn and then compressed. A spark from the spark plug then ignites the gasses and a contained explosion forces the piston down again, creating driving force. The burnt gases are expelled from the cylinder as the piston rises and the cycle is repeated. This turns the crankshaft and then the big round things known as wheels.

And what are brake power and torque anyway?

Brake horsepower measures engine power. It comes from the engine's torque. The more able the engine is to push against a resisting force, the more powerful it is. The name comes from the industrial revolution, when steam was rated by the number of horses it replaced. Torque is the twisting or pulling power of an engine. It is the force from the engine at a given rpm and is measured in lb/ft.

But what is direct fuel injection?

In a normal engine the fuel goes through a pre-combustion (intake manifold) chamber where combustion begins slowly and spreads to the main cylinder chamber. Direct injection is more efficient way of burning fuel by injecting it directly into the combustion chambers by the car's computer. This allows for more efficient fuel metering and breaks fuel into smaller droplets for more complete combustion.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

    C++ Quant Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

    Java/Calypso Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

    SQL Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

    Day In a Page

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York