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Ford transmission, fuel-sipping engine in the works

Ford transmission will have eight speeds; EcoBoost engine, three cylinders. Ford transmission and engine are part of automakers' push to boost fuel economy.

By Greg GardnerDetroit Free Press / June 4, 2011

This product image provided by the Ford Motor Co. displays the 2013 Ford Taurus Limited, which can deliver up to 31 highway miles per gallon when fitted with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost power. The automaker is working on a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine as well as a new transmission. The Ford transmission and EcoBoost engine are part of a wave of improvements aimed at improving fuel mileage.

Ford Motor Co./AP/File

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DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. will produce a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine and a new 8-speed transmission sometime in the next two years to raise the fuel economy of its small cars, company executives said Thursday.

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Derrick Kuzak, head of global product development, declined to say which Ford model will get the new engine ortransmission. He also declined to say where Ford will make the products, other than to say the new transmissionwill be made in the U.S.

But Ford is escalating efforts to take fuel efficiency to the next level. Three-cylinder engines have been widely available in Europe and emerging markets, but the only other car Americans can buy with a three-cylinder engine is the Smart fortwo, which has a 1.0-liter engine. Ford showed a concept car, the Start, at last year's Beijing Auto Show that featured a 1.0-liter three-cylinder.

The 1.0-liter would be offered in Ford vehicles throughout the world, Kuzak said.

EcoBoost engines combine turbo-charging and direct-injection fuel technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide about 20 percent better fuel economy than larger engines.

Ford launched its first EcoBoost engine in 2009 on the Taurus SHO sedan, and has since offered it in the Flex, Lincoln MKT and F-150 pickup, as well as on three models in Europe — S-Max, Mondeo and Galaxy. Later this year, the automaker will launch a 2.0-liter EcoBoost version of the Edge and Explorer.

The 8-speed transmission also will improve fuel efficiency by streamlining the way gears shift. That transmissionwill be Ford's first 8-speed. Chrysler will launch an 8-speed transmission this summer and fall on the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

Separately, Ford will begin production later this year at its plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., of a new transmissionfor hybrid vehicles.