Ford has quickly and successfully built a major sub-brand out of its Sync infotainment systems featured in Ford and Lincoln vehicles. The trailblazing, industry-leading approach to mobile connectivity has picked up in just four years a cachet that GM's OnStar brand hasn't achieved in 20 years.
So, could Ford's surging EcoBoost powertrain sub-brand be next to get the star treatment from Ford? A company executive pondered the possibility for brandchannel.
EcoBoost describes a set of technologies, including turbocharging and sophisticated electronics, that is allowing Ford to squeeze equal power out of fuel-economic, smaller-displacement engines compared with their larger-displacement predecessors. Thus, for instance, Ford is able to boast that its EcoBoost four-cylinder engine provides much greater mileage and yet equal power to its conventional V6 engine.
At a time of continued consumer emphasis on fuel economy, Ford has been launching and promoting its EcoBoost series to a sweet spot in the US market. By 2013, the company's goal is that more than 90 percent of Ford’s North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost technology.
After not offering any V-6 engine in its F-150 pickup trucks for a few years, for instance, Ford began offering an EcoBoost V6 late last year, and last month 57 percent of F-150s were sold equipped with a V-6 engine, most with EcoBoost, in part because Ford has emphasized consumer test drives and marketing that favorably compare an EcoBoost V6 to a traditional V8 engine.
The four-cylinder EcoBoost marks the next chapter in the company’s strategy to downsize engines and use turbocharging and direct injection to deliver the power customers want from their vehicles with the fuel economy they demand.
Ford is expanding its range of vehicles with the award-winning EcoBoost engineering to the fuel-efficient powertrain in the 2012 Ford Edge and Explorer that are arriving in dealerships now. Edge and Explorer are the first vehicles in North America to be offered with Ford’s new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
The automaker's executives also just announced that they're deploying their first three-cylinder engine, a 1-liter EcoBoost variant that still provides about 120 horsepower, well within range of many four-cylinder competitors. The three-cylinder EcoBoost power train will find its way into some small Ford of Europe models right away and, soon, into a US version of Focus.
With all this success for EcoBoost, however, so far Ford hasn't promoted the thriving sub-brand even a fraction as much as it has highlighted Sync. Could a change be in the offing, with increasingly popular EcoBoost technology featured in advertising cameos? After all, internal company data shows high customer-satisfaction scores for the EcoBoost line, and awareness is rising.
Don't idle waiting for that possibility. "What you've seen so far is launching EcoBoost with a vehicle," Amy Marentic, Ford's group marketing manager of large cars and utilities, told brandchannel. "Right now, our plan is to continue to talk about EcoBoost with the nameplate. You never know; tomorrow we could decide to do an EcoBoost campaign. But that's not part of the plan right now."