When improving fuel economy, there is no one strategy that trumps all others. Ford has taken a four-part approach, focusing on design efficiency, aerodynamics, weight reduction and high-value fuel economy technology.
The heart of Ford's strategy is its EcoBoost engine technology, said Nizar Trigui, who works in Ford's vehicle energy management engineering, at a press event Ford held yesterday. [Full disclosure: Ford paid for my travel to Michigan and lodging for the event.]
Ford's fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions strategy, Trigui said, includes making fuel economy the reason people buy Ford vehicles, providing the best-in-segment fuel economy for new and significantly refreshed vehicles, and offering showroom fuel economy competitiveness.
Recent data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that Ford's car and truck fleet fuel economy improved 20 percent between 2004 and 2008, an improvement that is more than twice the industry average and about twice that of the next carmaker on the list. Ford's CO2 emissions were reduced 16 percent in the same timeframe.
To make further improvements, Ford is tackling four key areas, and within them, Ford is researching a number of what it calls 1 percenters, strategies that each improve fuel economy by 1 percent or more.
To improve design efficiency, Ford is utilizing its entire global operations by educating employees about how every decision they make can effect fuel economy and putting engineers and senior management through a Design for Energy Efficiency training course.
Along with educating employees, Ford is learning from them as well by running online forums and a website for employees to share efficiency ideas and receive compensation for viable suggestions. "When we opened it, we had a flood of ideas," Trigui said.
Ideas that Ford has aggressively pursued include gear shifting optimization, brake drag, tire rolling resistance and engine and transmission stabilized temperatures.
With the engine and transmission temperature strategy, Ford has been working to make sure those parts reach the correct temperatures for optimal and efficient performance as quickly as possible.
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