Convincing pickup truck buyers they don't actually need a big 'ol honkin' V8 engine is going to be tough, regardless of how good the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the 2011 Ford F-150 may be. We already know that the mill puts out enough power to get just about anything done, but what about its durability? After all, the old-school V8 (never mind that modern Ford overhead cam V8s share almost nothing in common with their OHV predecessors) has been in use since, oh, just about the dawn of the American automobile industry.
With that in mind, Ford is eager to convince potential buyers that its twin-turbo V6 powerplant is fully capable of surviving the rigors of pickup duty. And to prove it, The Blue Oval has some pretty harsh plans for its latest EcoBoost engine, culminating with an entry into the famed Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race.
But before that final torture test, that same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine will be used by a lumber company in Oregon to haul logs weighing thousands of pounds up steep hills. Then, that same engine will tow a pair of Sprint Cup Ford Fusions at full throttle for 24 hours around the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval track in Florida. Then it's on to Baja, after which it will be torn down and shown off to the public.
Clearly, Ford believes in the durability of its EcoBoost engine, which has already gone through 1.6 million miles (both real over-the-road and simulated miles) of abusive testing. We look forward to seeing how this one particular randomly selected engine performs throughout its upcoming torture testing. Hit the jump for all the details.
- A 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost™ will take on the demanding Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 long-distance desert endurance race this year, marking Ford's EcoBoost engine racing debut.
- A 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost™ engine will take on the demanding Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 long-distance desert endurance race later this year, marking Ford's EcoBoost engine racing debut. Ford trucks have won more Baja 1000 titles (13) than any other four-wheel manufacturer
- Ford will equip the F-150 off-road race truck with the same stock EcoBoost engine that already has experienced 150,000 equivalent miles of dyno testing and other real-world tests as the final step in the durability torture tests
- The EcoBoost truck engine is tested to the equivalent of more than 1.6 million total miles of harsh customer use in the lab, in test cells and on the road
- The new F-150 EcoBoost has 420 lb.-ft. of torque – more than any competitive half-ton truck – and provides an unequaled combination of capability and fuel economy
- Racing the EcoBoost truck engine under these conditions, which include temperature swings from just above freezing to well above 100 degrees, harsh terrain and at least 30 hours driving the course, helps validate the testing of the new truck engine
Ford will enter a 2011 F-150 in November's prestigious long-distance desert endurance race, powered by a stock version of the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engine that will be available in the 2011 F-150 early next year.
The engine was selected randomly off the line from Cleveland Engine Plant to prove out the rigid durability and reliability tests the engine endured during development. The Baja 1000 race is part of an extensive torture test program by Ford for customers to see for themselves the extreme durability testing and development of the class-leading EcoBoost truck engine.
Viewers can visit fordvehicles.com/2011F150 to get an exclusive look at how first an EcoBoost truck engine endured thousands of miles on the dynamometer and in the laboratory to ensure 150,000-mile durability for even the most demanding F-150 customer before taking on real-world challenges.
On the same site will be a series of web-based documentaries hosted and narrated by Mike Rowe of the popular Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs. These documentaries will show the toughest challenges the 2011 F-150 EcoBoost faces in the real world, including:
The 2011 F-150 EcoBoost joins a lumber company in Oregon, working as a log skidder to show off its best-in-class hauling and 420 ft-lbs of torque. This severe duty involves dragging logs weighing thousands of pounds up steep grades. The 2011 F-150 EcoBoost replaces larger, heavy-duty machinery to perform the task.
24 hours of NASCAR
Following its work in the Pacific Northwest, the same 2011 F-150 EcoBoost heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida to demonstrate its best-in-class towing capability of 11,300 pounds. The truck will tow a pair of Sprint Cup Ford Fusions for 24 hours around the 1.5-mile oval. Befitting the track, site of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale, the fully stock 2011 F-150 EcoBoost will run at full throttle, reaching speeds in excess of 90 mph on the straights, stopping only for tires and more 87 octane fuel.
After all the pulling, towing, desert racing and much more, viewers will get an inside look at the durability of the EcoBoost when Ford engineers tear it down to evaluate the extensive testing program.
"The engine going into our race truck for the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 is the same engine going into the 2011 Ford F-150 that customers can purchase starting next year," said Eric Kuehn, chief engineer of the 2011 F-150. "No special blocks or structural upgrades. We are fully confident that because of the strict testing the 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engines underwent before we started manufacturing, it will take anything the desert can dish out."
Ford will compete in full-size stock class, which includes competitors with unlimited V8 engines. For safety, a full roll cage is added to each truck. Also allowed for competition are modifications to the suspension, tires and wheels.
Built Ford Tough testing
Durability and reliability are key in this type of racing environment. Temperatures can range from just above freezing at night to nearly 120 degrees during the day and the yet-to-be-announced race course may go from just above sea level to more than 8,500 feet above and back down again.
Three avenues that test and validate all truck engines are computer analysis, laboratory work and in-vehicle exercises. All the tests together replicate more than 1.6 million miles of customer usage – the harshest-use customer. A customer profile reflecting extreme-use driving style, road types and vehicle usage, including maximum towing and payload situations, was developed to underpin the testing program.
For the 2011 F-150 EcoBoost, that includes analytical time, dynamometer testing at full boost, in-vehicle test time, thermal test cycles ranging from 20 degrees Fahrenheit to 235 degrees Fahrenheit, fatigue testing with engine running nonstop between peak horsepower and peak torque and road tests.
In addition to being durable and reliable, race engines have to perform. Desert endurance racing's extreme environment is where the 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engine's inherent performance advantages – twin turbochargers and direct fuel injection to boost performance – will shine. This strategy produces 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm and 365 horsepower at 5,000 rpm – all on regular fuel. The EcoBoost truck engine has up to 90 percent of its peak torque available from 1,700 rpm to 5,000 rpm.
"The torque starts right away and is very consistent right up to the engine's redline. That performance is so key to the duty cycle of an off-road racer," said Cliff Irey, Ford truck motorsports lead.
Off-road racers – like many F-150 customers – spend most of their time between 20 mph and 50 mph, accelerating and decelerating. Another similarity is the F-150s in the Baja 1000 will be fueled with regular pump gasoline rather than specially blended racing fuel that is almost four times as expensive.
"In addition to durability, reliability and top performance, we expect the EcoBoost to get outstanding fuel mileage to the point of saving one or two fuel stops during the race," Irey said.
Pushing production engines to the limit in this harsh environment is nothing new for Ford. The new 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine standard in the 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty, 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the 2011 Ford Harley-Davidson™ F-150 helped a Raptor R earn a podium finish in the 2008 Baja 1000.
It's part of a Ford heritage that includes more Baja 1000 and Best in the Desert titles than any four-wheel manufacturer. Earlier this year, Ford swept the top eight places in Class 1400 – "Trick Truck" class of the Best in the Desert's Las Vegas to Reno event.
"The desert racing environment has been a tremendous laboratory for Ford over the years," said Kuehn. "We're eager to watch the 3.5-liter EcoBoost truck engine prove its durability, reliability, performance and fuel economy in this tough setting."
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.