Ford: 4-Cylinder Explorer, V6 F-150 Launching "By The End Of The Year"

ford 4 cylinder explorer v6 f 150 launching by the end of the year

Ford’s relationship with hybrid technology has been an on-again-off-again affair, since Bill Ford first pledged to build 250k hybrids by 2010. And it’s probably a good thing the Blue Oval backed away from that promise, as the firm sold only 33,502 hybrids last year. Meanwhile, Ford still has yet to claim profitability on any of its hybrids (last disclaiming such an achievement (sort of) in 2008). Perhaps because Ford has paid dearly to tag along in the import-dominated hybrid segments, it’s getting a bit jaded about the power of high-cost, high-tech green halo cars to deliver real results. Or, perhaps Ford’s VP of powertrain engineering Barb Samardzich is simply channeling old Henry Ford, when she says:

We are focused on sustainable technology solutions that can be used not for hundreds or thousands of cars, but for millions of cars, because that’s how Ford will truly make a difference

We’ve heard this before, but today’s news puts the four-cylinder future into perfect context in just five words: Four. Cylinder. Explorer. This. Year.

Ford’s Ecoboost strategy (which, in addition to downized engines, direct injection and turbocharging, apparently includes weight-loss measures) is rolling onwards, with Ford announcing three new applications for 2010. The first, a 1.6 liter four cylinder, will only be available this year on the European C-Max MPV (but cross your fingers for an eventual Fiesta appearance). The other two are aimed straight at the heart of Ford’s US market share: the Taurus SHO’s 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 is headed for rear-drive versions of the F-150, and the forthcoming Explorer will be powered by a 2.0 Ecoboost four-pot engine.

There’s even some poetic justice in the rehabilitation of the former poster child for America’s era of SUV excess. Billy Ford’s only-220k-units-off prediction of hybrid dominance was formulated in the wake of his backdown from a previous goal of improving SUV efficiency 25 percent by 2005. Ten years after that broken promise was made, and with much water under the bridge, Ford might just be building the Explorer William Clay Jr had in mind back then.

And though the company’s new emphasis on incremental change across large volumes is certainly in the best Ford traditions, there’s room to question how committed the firm really is to its new strategy. Why, for example, will stop-start systems, a relatively cheap mass-market efficiency improver, only reach 20 percent of Ford nameplates by 2014? Why is Ford insisting on rebodying a Magna-supplied EV as a green-halo Focus?

Although many questions about Ford’s efficiency/environmental strategy remain open, EcoBoost has clearly succeeded on the marketing front. By bundling a suite of strategies and technologies, most of which were not invented in Dearborn, and selling them hard, Ford is building brand equity in a name that it will be able to capitalize in the short- to medium-term. Instead of leapfrogging Toyota’s hybrids technologically, as Chevy’s Volt seeks to do, Ford is bringing as many of its cars as close as possible to hybrid level performance, with less cost and (potentially) less risk. Given Ford’s history, that’s not a bad approach at all.

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  • JMII JMII on Apr 13, 2010

    Ford if your listening: V6 Eco-boost Ranger-sized pickup please. If not I'm keeping my Dakota V8 forever, it has the right size & right power - just miserable mileage. The F150 is TOO big! As for a boosted 4 in the Explorer - if it was a diesel then maybe... but the only way a turbo 4 would work is in an Escape-sized CUV. So why not try to hit the MPG out of the park: combine a diesel turbo 4 with the current Escape Hybrid?

  • PartsUnknown PartsUnknown on Apr 13, 2010

    Everyone - relax. The vehicle in the pic is a test mule - Flex front clip, Taurus X from the A-pillar back. The new Explorer will look nothing like this. This pic, and many others, have been floating around different auto sites for a few months.

  • 01 Deville
  • Lou_BC This would be a good colour for anyone that would actually use their truck offroad, on gravel roads, in the winter or poor visibility situations.
  • EBFlex “getting a full charge in just about three hours or so. Not that it would’ve mattered if I couldn’t charge – I’d just run on gas.”And this folks is why PHEVs are the future and pure EVs will remain vanity products for the rich.
  • Pmirp1 Simple. Electrics are not yet prime time. In time, they may become the norm. For now, they are still the new kid on the block. A curosity. A status symbol. They are not the work horse of American life. Everyone knows that. You buy it because it is fast. It makes you feel like, you know, Prius like 10-15 years ago.Electrics have improved. Tesla is without a doubt the standard bearer. Still, long way to go before they can be your ONE vehicle. So companies charge more because these things are coooool. Not real.
  • Rich Benkwitt I’ll take that red and white 2 door and I guess the 4 banger so I can have the manual tranny just like my 1969 Bronco. I have my Wildtrak on order now waiting impatiently!