A New V8 from Ford?
By Igor Holas
Recently, a set of articles from Canada have been detailing Ford’s attempt to get federal and provincial support in re-opening its Essex Engine Plant. Ultimately, the province of Ontario promised to support this $600 million investment with $30 million, but the federal government refused to add another $30 million to the package, making the whole idea of re-opening Essex shaky. Ford has not yet commented on its next steps.
All of the above is mighty interesting, but not as much as the reason why Ford wants to re-open the engine plant. According to the articles, Ford wants to use the plant to build a new, more fuel-efficient V8 engine. Initially one might think this would be the new BOSS V8 program, but this program has been assigned a long time ago to another plant in Michigan and there are no plans for adding a second manufacturing site. Moreover, the focus of the BOSS engine is not economy, but performance, finally pushing Ford well above the 300 and even 400 horsepower boundary.
This leads to the only logical answer left – a new smaller V8 family. The currently-used MOD/Triton engine family is still going strong, but it is getting a little old, and in some areas showing its weaknesses. Most notably, the engines cannot match the efficiency of GM’s V8 engines, especially in trucks. This is despite Ford’s engine making more torque per liter, and having the advantage of two extra forward gears in most applications.
Ford has some more development ready for the MOD family in the near term, but its possible medium-term plans call for a new architecture. While Ford does not plan any V8 engines in front-drive applications, and is going to rely on V6 and turbocharged V6 engines for the majority of the volume, they will continue to need V8 engines. For one, their truck program will not go away, and will probably be the most resistant to the new EcoBoost V6 engines. Moreover, Ford is moving forward to introduce new large rear-wheel-drive cars into its North American lineup, sharing a global architecture with a new Mustang, and Australian Falcon. All these programs could use a more efficient, more powerful, smoother, and, generally better V8 than the MOD family. It would be nice to see Ford once again with a V8 that puts other manufacturers’ V8s to shame.
Regardless of the full story, it is exciting to see domestic automakers re-opening manufacturing sites and otherwise expanding after the long period of slow decline. We will follow this story, and find out what Ford is cooking.
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