Crowley, Ford's marketing manager for cars and crossovers, says he was more worried about marketing EcoBoost in 2006, when Ford committed to the strategy, than he is now. The reason: Last summer's gasoline price spike helped change consumers' attitudes and sparked a run on smaller engines.
"Once fuel prices spiked over $4 a gallon last year, people opened their eyes and started looking at alternatives to the traditional paradigm of 'If I want power, I have to go for a V-8,' " he says.
The 2009 MKS is a good example of the change EcoBoost will bring to Ford vehicles. Lincoln's luxury flagship comes standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 273 hp. The optional EcoBoosted engine will be a 3.5-liter V-6. But thanks to two turbochargers and the direct fuel-injection system, horsepower from the smaller V-6 will be 355 — about the same as a 4.6-liter V-8.
Except for pickups and big SUVs, Ford will not offer a V-8 option in vehicles available with EcoBoost engines. Crowley acknowledges that some buyers will reject a smaller engine — no matter what Ford does to promote EcoBoost.
"The Mustang customer is looking for a V-8," he says. "That's a traditional powertrain for them. I don't think that group is ready today for an EcoBoost powertrain. They may in the future, but today I think it is all about V-8 horsepower."
Crowley says he will push EcoBoost's advanced features.
"It will be a challenge," he says. "Although the technology has been around for a while, we are really introducing a new brand into the marketplace with EcoBoost. Our message to the marketplace will be that EcoBoost is a smart solution to deliver the fuel economy that you demand and the performance that you need."
Ford plans to offer the engine on 90 percent of its nameplates by 2014 and wants to sell as many as 750,000 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles worldwide by that same year.
By the end of the year, EcoBoost engines also will be available on the Ford Flex crossover and the new Taurus SHO sedan. Ford plans to launch an F-150 pickup with an EcoBoost V-6 late next year.
After that comes a four-cylinder application that uses one turbocharger. Ford won't say which vehicle will have it, but contenders are the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion or Transit Connect small van.