DUNTON and DAGENHAM – Start up Ford’s patented new 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost® engine and chances are you’ll have to look at the tachometer to verify that the engine is running.
Ford engineers always knew they could build a powerful, fuel-efficient three-cylinder engine. The real engineering magic would be solving the problem that has often sunk previous three-cylinder automobile engines – conquering the unpleasant vibrations that come from having an odd number of cylinders under the hood.
For Ford’s new three-cylinder engine to be successful, it would have to be a no-compromise engine. It could not force customers to choose between performance versus economy or responsiveness versus smoothness. It had to deliver it all and it had to be affordable.
The traditional way of reducing shaking forces in small-displacement engines is to install a counter-rotating balance shaft inside the motor that cancels out most vibrations. But the problem with a balance shaft, explains Andy Delicata, Ford of Europe manager of Powertrain Noise, Vibration and Harshness, is that it is heavy, expensive, and it reduces fuel economy.
The 1.0-liter’s NVH engineering team, led by Delicata at Ford Technical Centres in Dunton and Dagenham, England, attacked the problem by focusing on two areas – the engine’s front pulley and rear flywheel, and the mounting system that connects the powertrain with the car’s body.
The pulley and flywheel are unbalanced with weights that are placed precisely to counteract the natural shaking forces of the engine and drive the energy in a less sensitive direction. The engine mounts are designed to decouple as well as absorb the engine’s shaking forces, Delicata explained.
The result is one of the smoothest and quietest engines in Ford’s global lineup. “We like to compare the refinement of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with what you would typically experience in a vehicle two or three classes up from Fiesta and Focus,” said Delicata.
The smoothness of the engine is complemented by class-leading quietness. Engineers in Dunton and Dagenham attacked engine noise at its many sources.
For instance, a super-compact, highly stiff cast-iron block structure and an integrated engine mounting bracket are crucial in absorbing noise energy. In addition to immersing the engine’s toothed rubber timing belts in oil, isolated fuel injectors electronically controlled for soft landing and a foam-covered engine collectively help keep noise and vibration from reaching the driver.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is off to a fast start in Europe. Since its launch in March in the Focus, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine has won four major international awards. In the Focus, the 1.0-liter engine accounts for about 30 percent of sales, no small feat in a part of the world where the diesel engine is king.
The 1.0-liter is just now launching in B-MAX and C-MAX, and will be available in North America next year in the redesigned 2014 Ford Fiesta.