Sources say International will equip the new Power Stroke with piezo injectors - the first application of the technology in a U.S. pickup. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 coming this fall will be the first North American passenger car application of piezo fuel injectors.
Ford has recalled Power Stroke-equipped Super Duty trucks at least three times, bought back as many as 500 vehicles that could not be fixed and issued at least 60 technical bulletins to dealerships.
Most of the quality issues were related to fuel injection system faults on engines built up to the 2004 model year. An improved fuel injection system that debuted on 2005 models solved many of the problems.
The new engine and fuel injection system are expected to help Ford fend off fresh competition in the pickup wars and meet tougher diesel emissions standards that take effect Jan. 1. This year, GM will launch new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. Toyota plans to launch a bigger version of the Tundra pickup this fall.
Piezo injectors are just now coming to Europe on high-end vehicles from Range Rover, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Piezo is widely seen as the next big evolution of the diesel engine.
Small crystalline discs in the injector change shape when electricity is applied. When the discs change shape, diesel fuel under high pressure is shot through a needle in a fine spray into the engine's combustion chambers.
As many as seven injections can be made in a single piston stroke, compared with one or three injections in most diesel engines. Those multiple injections lower the temperature in the combustion chamber, which in turn lowers oxides of nitrogen emissions.
Piezo injectors also reduce noise, vibration and smoke, all unpopular traits of a diesel engine.
International spokesman Joe Koenig would not comment on the company's product plans, and he refused to talk about any engines it might sell to Ford. But he said piezo technology is a key enabler to meeting 2007 emissions regulations because of its precise control over fuel quantity and timing.
The piezo injectors to be used in the Super Duty pickups will be made by a joint-venture company in Blythewood, S.C., owned by German supplier Siemens VDO and International. Production of the injectors is scheduled to start in December, said Siemens spokesman Brad Warner. He would not confirm any vehicle applications but said the plant's entire output will go to International.
Ford spokesman Said Deep refused to discuss future products.
Ford's Super Duty pickup sales totaled 133,890 through May, up 2.4 percent from the same period in 2005 and equal to 40 percent of F-series volume.
Ford says about a quarter of all F-series trucks are sold with Power Stroke diesels.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]