Last year at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford announced its intention to introduce a lineup of EcoBoost engines as a cost-effective means of getting a significant improvement in fuel efficiency.

The first of those EcoBoost engines is a turbocharged and direct-injected version of the 3.5-liter V6 used in many of Ford's larger cars. Those engines will launch into production in just a few weeks and should start appearing in first in the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS well before summer solstice arrives. Later this summer, the same engine will also provide power to the new Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT. While we're not yet allowed discuss what it's like to drive cars and trucks, you can draw your conclusions from the Ford-provided torque graph (at right) that compares its output against the output of the 4.6-liter Cadillac V8 in the STS.

While 3.5-liter EcoBoost has impressive power production, it also substantially reduces the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to competitive V8 engines. Relative to the 4.2-4.8 -liter V8 motors used in other luxury sedans, Ford's V6 is near the top of the segment in terms of power and torque, yet CO2 emissions are only 218 grams-per-kilometer. The V8s range from 227 g/km for the Lexus GS460 to 272 g/km for the Infiniti M45. Learn more about EcoBoost after the jump.

Note: The Ford provided table above erroneously lists the Lexus GS450 which should be the GS460 with a 4.6-liter V8.

The 3.5-liter V6 is just the first step. When Ford first announced EcoBoost last year, the plan was offer up to 500,000 such engines annually within five years. That plan has now been significantly accelerated. The V6 will be targeted as a premium engine option in the larger vehicles this year. In 2010, the same engine will be available in the F-150 pickup as lower consumption alternative to the 5.4-liter V8 while offering comparable or better performance and an 11,000 pound towing capacity. Ford says the V6 should be able to achieve up 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the larger V8.

Late this year, Ford will also start production of a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder in the UK for vehicles like the Focus. In the next couple of years, Ford will also launch a mid-level four-cylinder, likely a 2.0-liter to supplant the current 3.0-liter V6, as well as smaller 1.2-liter EcoBoost engines. By 2013, 90% of all vehicles that Ford builds will be available with EcoBoost power. The company plans to sell 1.3 million such powerplants globally, with 700,000 of those coming to the U.S.