Another Step of Ford's Way Forward - Ford Consolidates Six Cylinder Engines
FoMoCo News Editorial
Ford Australia announced today that it will close its Geelong engine plant in 2010 as it phases out its local 4.0l I6 engines and replaces it with the modern Duratec (Cyclone) V6 engine.
The old Bara I6 engine had an iron block, but aluminum head, dual independent variable cam timing and other technologies making it one of the most efficient engines among its kind, even though it had the most torque - especially down low. However mostly because of the iron block and its prolonged heating time, the engine would require massive investment to have it pass the "Euro 4" Emissions which are required immediately on all vehicles released after June 2008, and on older models by 2010.
Falcon (Orion) will be purposefully released before the deadline, and Territory and Ute will only receive minor changes, classified locally as "running changes" to bypass the need to meet the stricter emissions before 2010.
While no details are currently available on the version of the Cyclone Australia will be getting, it is almost certain the TwinForce will power the future XR6 Falcon. The new engine is also much more efficient, but produces much less torque and its peak torque is some 2000 rpms higher than the Bara I6; lack of torque is a common complaint with the HF 3.6l over at Holden. Moreover, unlike the inherently balanced I6 design, the V6 is balanced only on the primary axis, not secondary, raising fears of NVH issues - the second main complaint with the Holden/GM HF 3.6l V6. However, the potential of the new Engine, the lower emissions, and gas consumption, the lower weight and better packaging opens up a lot of opportunity for future developments of the engines.
Thus, while we all regret the loss of jobs for the 600 Geelong employees, this is overall good news. It cuts costs for Ford Motor Company, it ensures jobs in United States, the one division of Ford losing the most jobs, and it promises bright future where the Cyclone family of engines receives all the attention this excellent engine deserves.
This engine is shaping up to be the single most important engine family in the empire - propped by three crucial assignments. First, the F150 will debut this winter with the Cyclone as the base engine. Second, Ford recently leaked rumors that going forward there will be no V8 engines in front wheel drive vehicles, instead making the Cyclone and its TwinForce key in Ford's FWD future. Finally, today’s announcement assigns this V6 family also to all future RWD cars based on the Mustang, Orion and future Global RWD architecture. Truly, this engine will be omnipresent in Ford's global lineup.
I have to say, I am very happy with this step for one other simple reason : this step is yet another in eliminating the non sense in FoMoCo's products. Currently, Ford has no less than six (yup 6) unrelated 6 cylinder families:
- Cologne 4.0l V6 in the Mustang
- Essex 4.2l V6 in the F150
- Bara 4.0l I6 in Australian Falcons
- Volvo / PAG 3.0l and 3.2l I6 engines
- Duratec 3.0l V6 in Fusion/Escape and Jaguars
- Duratec / Cyclone 3.5l and 3.7l V6 in US Fords and Lincolns.
This needless complexity is the fat weighing down Ford, and it needs to be cut lose. Luckily, half of the engines listed above are on their last months or years of production - the Essex and Cologne will not go past 2009 model year, and obviously Bara will end in 2010. The 3.0l Duratec will probably continue production as long as Jaguar will want it, but I would not be surprised if Ford asked Jaguar to switch to the Volvo I6, leaving a clean 2 engine lineup in the whole FoMoCo empire:
- Volvo / PAG luxury I6 family
- Ford / Mazda "regular" and performance Cyclone V6
Thanks for Reading
Related links: http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=41783