New 1.5 Will be Volume Ford Fusion Engine

DEARBORN, Michigan – Ford’s new 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine will take over from the 1.6 EcoBoost as the Fusion’s volume engine immediately when it becomes available at the beginning of the 2014 model year, says Joe Bakaj, powertrain engineering vice president. The new engine actually is based on the 1.6-liter EcoBoost it eventually will replace he says, though it has an in-head exhaust manifold like the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine available later this year in the Fiesta.

The three-year-old 1.6 EcoBoost was plagued early in the ’13 model year by Fusion and Escape recalls connected to a fluid leak that could cause engine fires. Despite this, and its $995 option price over the base naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four, the 1.6 EcoBoost is the most popular engine in the new Fusion.

Bakaj described elsewhere in his presentation that the new engine has the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three’s design DNA. He detailed the 1.5 EcoBoost Thursday, a day after our Rumors story outlining the powertrain strategy in a press conference that also revealed Ford’s plans for this month’s Shanghai Motor Show. (Those plans are embargoed.) Ford will source the 1.5 from its factory in Romania to meet heavy demand for models offered with the 1.6 EcoBoost, which includes the popular new Escape crossover/utility vehicle.

Other innovations in the new 1.5 include a turbocharger with an active wastegate and a water-to-air charger-intercooler.

Ford says a 1.5-liter engine tariff threshold in China and some European countries prompted development of the engine. However, a Chinese government document on its Energy Savings Products Benefit People Program lists a 3000 rmb subsidy (about $500) for cars with engines of 1.6 liters or smaller.

For 2014, you’ll get the optional 1.5-liter EcoBoost I-4 if you order your Fusion with the six-speed automatic transmission, and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4, sourced from England, if you order the six-speed manual. This should drive most 1.6es sold in the U.S. to the Escape for ’14, which will continue to have the 1.6 EcoBoost option, combined with the six-speed automatic.

Ford will continue to offer the base, 2.5-liter I-4 and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains in the ’14 Fusion. The new 1.5 will be available with stop/start, as is the ’13 Fusion 1.6 EcoBoost with the automatic transmission.

Power, torque and fuel economy numbers for the 1.5-liter Fusion aren’t final, Bakaj says. However, he promises power and torque about equal to the U.S.-spec Fusion 1.6’s 178 horsepower (173 with regular gas) and 184 pound-feet. Fuel economy will top the 1.6-liter Fusion automatic’s 23 mpg city/36 mpg highway, or 24 mpg city/37 mpg highway with stop/start.

Bakaj says he believes the external exhaust manifold eventually will go the way of the carburetor. First, “we must ensure we don’t have any negative torque pulsations as part of the cylinder head” before all engines have such internal manifolds. Flexible airflow and cylinder head cooling are critical to the new technology’s success, he says.

Ford now builds EcoBoost engines in six factories around the world. The 1.5-liter EcoBoost’s transition in replacing the 1.6 will not take place overnight, because automakers must make 4-percent fuel efficiency increases every year leading to the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard of 54.5 mpg. So it pays to stretch out the improved efficiencies. If that’s a hint at the ’14 Fusion 1.5’s fuel efficiency, it will need numbers of 24 mpg city/37 mpg highway, or 25 mpg city/38 mpg highway with stop/start, to make the engine change effective.

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