Ford and BMW’s three-cylinder engines: Explaining the technology
Whilst most manufacturers worry about how they can create the next great hybrid car, some are not giving up hope in making petrol powered vehicles efficient and economical.
Ford has been stirring up somewhat of a revolution with its EcoBoost engines that have arrived on the market to very positive reviews. The American giant has somehow managed to create a three-cylinder unit that can still offer a good range of power and torque, as well as rein in fuel consumption and run efficiently.
Europe have had their say too in this area of engine development and BMW has now entered the frame with its own incarnation of a three-cylinder engine that will be available for its upcoming front-wheel drive range and a couple of other select models.
So how do these two manufacturers create such units and reap such rewards? Both firms have different methods in producing such motors to give the results they both want to achieve and there are some methods that are shared, such as chopping down the engine block and using turbos.
Ford's three cylinder block can be up to 20 per cent more fuel efficient and uses direct injection to pump fuel straight into where it is to be burned, instead of being mixed with incoming air in the inlet port. This is done by injecting highly pressurised fuel directly into the combustion chamber.
The advantages of this include a more precise delivery of fuel so none is wasted in the chamber and gives lower emissions and higher volumetric efficiency for better running and more performance.
Turbo charging has a big say in how well the engine runs and Ford uses energy from the exhaust that would otherwise be wasted to rotate a turbine wheel. The turbine, coupled with a compressor, pressurises the incoming air to increase the output per litre of the engine. Direct injection helps rein in turbo lag and knock.
Ford have confirmed a version of the EcoBoost engine for the new Mondeo (Fusion), so they'll even be a version for fleet types with Shell Cards from chooseafuelcard.com.
The Germans use a slightly different direction, but only in the way that they harness the power from the turbo and other elements. The Munich-based company have already let magazines test out their concept three-cylinder engine and have had a very positive reception from those that have given them it a try.
BMW will eventually offer their example in both petrol and diesel guises. Namely with the German's example, the turbo is key, mainly because BMW have employed their own patented system called Valvetronic which provides continuously variable adjustment of both the inlet and exhaust valves . Also in use is the aforementioned direct injection system.
Journalists have praised the car for not relinquishing BMW's sporting pedigree of its cars, whilst also offering economic figures and more efficiency. They have even noted the great responsiveness and sound of the engine. Some were able to get 56mpg from a 1.5 litre petrol engine, which is pretty impressive.
The BMW for now is more of an intruiging sample of what's to come from the manufacturer and the engine is still to be tested through front-wheel drive. However, both the German and American firms are offering the world just what it needs right now and it is a welcome change from all the expensive and boring hybrids being drip-fed our way.
About the author: Sam writes for Choose a Fuel Card and you can look at Chooseafuelcard.com Diesel Cards for the best deals in fuel cards, be it petrol or diesel and for fleet purposes or individual use.