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Two Roads to the Same Destination

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On: Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 5:50PM | By: Karen Cook

Two Roads to the Same Destination

Truck buyers are not willing to give up their trucks, but, with gas prices ever on the rise, truck makers are becoming more creative in boosting fuel economy in their vehicles. GM and Ford are the top-selling truck manufacturers and have approached the problem from different angles. Ford has created an “Ecoboost” engine, while GM has dubbed its creation “Active Fuel Management.” It comes down to the way you drive; that will determine which will be the option best for you.

How they are different:
Ford went smaller and lighter while maintaining the abilities of a larger engine. GM kept a big engine but taught it to act small when major power isn’t necessary. Ford gave its engine turbocharging abilities, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing which increases horsepower and torque. GM opted to just turn off two cylinders when possible which causes a V-8 to act like a V-6 and a V-6 to act like a V-4, thus saving gas when traveling at a constant speed with no load.

How they are alike:
Both manufacturers report better mpg numbers with their technology, but Ford seems to have the upper hand. Ford says its approach carries a fuel economy gain of 20% while GM says shutting down unnecessary power gives them a 7.8% boost. Both systems also have drawbacks. The Ecoboost delivers on Ford’s promise only if the turbocharger is not overused, and when towing it will likely fall much shorter than projections. Ford has had to recall nearly 200,000 vehicles due to quality problems since the Ecoboost was introduced in 2010. GM’s issue is that the cylinders switch off only inside very narrow parameters, and if the gas pedal is touched the engine assumes you need more power and turns them on again.

Ford offers the Ecoboost as an option which will add about $1,000 to the bill, but if the promised mpg is realized it will pay for itself. GM puts the Active Fuel Management System in its vehicles standard. Either way, the race is on for better fuel economy in large vehicles because drivers obviously want the best of both worlds. It will be interesting to see this technology develop in the future and to watch how other manufacturers will enter the competition.


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