Why Ford Skipped Direct Injection Route For New V-6 And V-8 Engines

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Duratec 2011 Mustang V6 engine

Duratec 2011 Mustang V6 engine

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While many of its rivals are offering direct injection technology on its engines in an effort to boost performance and fuel economy, Ford decided on skipping on the innovative technology for its latest range of V-6 and V-8 engines.

It’s not like the Blue Oval hasn’t mastered the technology. After all, direct injection combined with turbocharging is currently offered quite successfully on Ford’s EcoBoost range of engines, which span both four-cylinder and V-6 units.

Furthermore, Ford’s most direct rival--General Motors--has been offering direct injection on its V-6 engine for years! Despite this, Ford has introduced a pair of all-new V-6 and V-8 engines, slated for a wide range of applications and the V-6 making more power and torque than that GM V-6. But neither of the Ford engines employ direct injection technology.

When quizzed by TheCarConnection.com, a Ford powertrain engineer explained that direct injection is NOT always a step ahead for fuel economy and emissions--especially when considering cost, complexity, and how the technology will pair with other innovations.

"When the program started, it [the new Duratec in the Mustang] was a direct injection engine," said Greg T. Johnson, a powertrain integration manager whose responsibilities include both engines. But according to Johnson, Ford powertrain engineers eventually realized that leaving the direct injection aspect out of the design allowed charge-cooling advantages--allowing engineers to better optimize intake air temps for fuel economy, power, and emissions.

Typically, direct injection allows better control over knock, enabling a higher compression ratio, which does help optimize combustion. "Yeah, it helped us a little bit with knock, but it wasn't that much for all the cost," said Johnson, referring to all the more expensive parts, such as high-pressure fuel-system components, needed for direct injection. Ford even developed a direct injection version of the engine and was testing running prototypes, "but in the end it didn't make business sense," Johnson summed.

The strategy--instead optimizing the new Ti-VCT system and emphasizing breathing--paid off. The proof is in the pudding--the new Ford Duratec 3.7-liter V-6 (pictured) produces 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, while GM's 3.6-liter direct injection V-6 makes 280 to 304 horsepower and 266 to 273 pound-feet of torque, depending on the application.

A similar story can be told for Ford’s new 5.0-liter V-8 engine, which at 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque produces more output than many same-size or slightly larger V-8 mills.

Head over the TheCarConnection.com for a more detailed report from Bengt Halvorson.


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Comments (8)
  1. It makes a lot of sense when seen from that perspective.

  2. I agree. AND engine repairs (however many years down the road) will be less expensive because of the lack of expensive DI tech, both parts and labor. Well done Ford.

  3. I don't know...I'm no engineer or mechanic, but if direct injection is'nt that great then why is Ford using it in the Taurus and the future eco-boost f-150. I agree it's cheaper to build and fix an engine without it. But direct injection is proven to give you an extra 20 horsepower in addition to giving a couple of extra mpg's. What Ford did is make a BUSINESS decision. They asked, "will people pay extra money for 20 more hp and a couple of extra mpg's?" I DO like Fords, but sometimes they really piss me off. It's almost like they can't make up their minds about what they want to do. On the one hand they're ttrying to sell eco-boost with twin turbo's and direct injection and how you can get the power of this with the size and efficiency of that, and then on the other hand Ford says, uuuhhhh you really don't need that stuff afterall. All I think of is how much better these engines would be WITH direct injection. AND if Ford made direct injection in all it's engines, like they originally said they were going to do, it would be cheaper to build, thereby making it cheaper to purchase. Again, I like Ford, but it sounds to me like Ford is trying to be cheap. I hope I'm wrong.

  4. @john m
    All companies make business decisions with every action, but it sounds like an "engineer" decided DI wasn't worth it, not some know-nothing MBA.
    Perhaps, as CAFE tightens, Ford will later apply DI to the engines. As for the EcoBoost, that extra knock control was clearly needed to cope with the demands of turbocharging.
    In any case, Ford was able to produce a V6 that's as good, if not better --and cheaper to build-- than GM's DI V6. That sounds like the engineers know what the hell they are doing.

  5. Seems like the differences in output between the Ford and GM sixes is splitting hairs a bit. "Oooh, my V6 make ONE whole horsepower more than yours!" I too, wonder how much better these engines would have been with DI.

  6. Actually direct injection works really well in Turbo and supercharged engine but not as much in normally aspirated engines. It mainly helps by allowing you to inject the fuel a little later and at hotter temperatures basically meaning higher compression ratios and less knock, this allows them to thin the fuel mixture a little less as well hence the extra mpg but because airflow sometime have a throttle body or manifold port injection is better, direct injection is in the cylinderhead were as the others are either in the intake manifold or connected to the throttle body so the closer the fuel injector usually the more hp is possible.

  7. Michael Escobar read carefully and you would realize that Ford got about the same power from a non-DI that GM got from a DI engine, that is a big deal.

  8. GM's 3.6DI engine in the Camaro and CTS make 304 HP not 280 as mentioned in the article. Also I know I am splitting hairs now but the GM 3.6DI gets a specific output of 84.4 HP/L while the Ford gets only 82.4 HP/L. I do not have mpg's to compare though.

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