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Ford Puts Gas Savings on the Front Burner

Ford Escape HybridFord Motor Co. has accelerated its time table for adopting fuel-saving technologies.

"We need to really accelerate," said John Viera, director, sustainable business strategies, in an Aug. 11 presentation to a group of New York-based auto writers.

Ford originally gave itself until 2020 to achieve what it calls "full implementation of known technology." Based on consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles, Ford has announced slightly lower, interim targets, to be achieved earlier. The net effect is a more ambitious plan.

For instance, Ford says it will offer so-called "EcoBoost" engines as either standard or optional equipment on 90 percent of its lineup by 2013.

EcoBoost uses a combination of direct-injection gasoline technology with turbocharging, to produce a V-6 with the power of a V-8 but the gas mileage of a V-6. The same principle can be applied to a four-cylinder engine.

Switching from a V-8 to an Ecoboost V-6 cuts fuel consumption by about 10 percent, with no loss of power. Switching from a six to an Ecoboost four saves about 20 percent, Viera said.

Also by 2013, Ford says it will offer six-speed automatic transmissions and electric-assisted power steering on 100 percent of the lineup by 2013. Each improvement contributes only a couple of percentage points better gas mileage, but taken together, the improvements are significant, he said.