Ford continues to invest in EcoBoost engines, EVs rather than compressed natural gas powertrains

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 12, 2012

Ford Motor Co. considers the future of EcoBoost engines and electric vehicles to be “more solid” and has invested more for this technology. Meanwhile, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are putting in compressed natural gas powertrains to their pickups this year. Raj Nair, who will take on the role of Ford’s group vice president of global product development on April 1, said that refueling infrastructure is limited and the low density of natural gas had made it difficult to store or transport by vehicle.

At the Geneva motor show, Nair said that with these disadvantages, what Ford will do is to emphasize other technologies. Ford’s F-Series pickups have stayed on top of the U.S. market for the last 30 years.

GM will open order books next month for pickups that use both gasoline and compressed natural gas. Meanwhile, Chrysler expects to deliver trucks with similar technology to fleet buyers this July. Nair said that in comparing EcoBoost and its electrification strategy in the U.S. with the diesel strategy in Europe and elsewhere, Chrysler has “put really solid investments in for mainstream offerings” on the former. Last year, Ford presented its first EcoBoost engine for F- Series pickups. To raise fuel economy, EcoBoost makes use of direct fuel injection and turbocharging.

Trucks that had this engine made up over 40% of the model line’s retail sales by December and 43% in February. In a statement dated March 5, the company said that GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD extended-cab pickups will be available with a 6.0-liter, V-8 engine that can “seamlessly” transition between natural gas and gasoline.

In a March 6 statement, Chrysler said that its Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup for fleet and commercial customers will use both compressed gas storage tanks and an eight-gallon conventional gasoline fuel tank. Fiat S.p.A. has engines that use compressed natural gas in Europe. Fiat currently owns 58.5% of Chrysler.

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