It's really no contest: the Ford F-150 pickup is America's perennial best-selling car by a wide margin. Now, it seems Ford is working on a way to make it both more powerful and more efficient.
Motor Trend is reporting that Ford has partnered up with engineering consultants FEV and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a new project —one that seeks to use pre-chamber ignition technology to create what's supposedly been dubbed the "Next Generation High-Efficiency Boosted Engine" for the next F-150.
Prechamber ignition technology, in case you're unfamiliar, is used in modern F1 engines, as well as the the Formula 1-derived Maserati MC20's 'Nettuno' turbocharged V6. On a very elementary level, in a prechamber motor, each cylinder has a main chamber and a smaller pre-chamber connected by holes; combustion in the pre-chamber exits as fire jets, which ignite the main chamber. The net result: faster, more efficient combustion.
The Ford F-150, of course, won't achieve F1 levels of performance and efficiency, where a 1.6-liter hybrid setup puts out around 1,000 horsepower. But the gains should still be significant. Based on the 2016 F-150 with the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, the target is a 23 percent improvement in efficiency over that engine while reducing the size by 15 percent, according to MT.
The resulting engine would be a "BMW-like" — at least in format — twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six under the hood of Ford's next half-ton pickup. A 23% improvement in efficiency over the 2016 F-150 would mean fuel economy in the 22-mpg-combined range, instead of 18 mpg. That number isn't brain-melting — but driving an extra four miles on every gallon of gas would add up. So would the hundreds of thousands of people who buy F-150s every year getting an extra four miles per gallon.
Combine that engine with whatever hybrid technology Ford will have in practice in a few years, and the result could be a very fuel-efficient F-150 — albeit not quite as efficient as the electric F-150 , which will arrive first.