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Daimler consults Ford on turbo three-cylinder engine development

Fri, 24 May 2013

Daimler has strengthened ties with Ford Motor Co. after consulting with the U.S. automaker during the development of a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine.

Daimler is building the new engine with Renault for use in the French automaker's next Twingo minicar and in the German company's new Smart ForTwo.

Ford fits its turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline direct-injection engine in models such as the Focus and C-Max compacts as well as the Fiesta and B-Max subcompacts. The engine has won numerous awards for its performance and low emissions.

"It's a very interesting and impressive engine," engine development director Roland Kemmler of Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz told Automotive News Europe when asked about Ford's powerplant. "We have had some discussions with Ford engineers about this engine."

Kemmler said Ford shared its expertise with the engine in return for information about Mercedes' Euro6 stratified lean-burn gasoline engines. A four-cylinder unit is currently available in the updated E-class sedan.

Fuel cell partnership

The engine information sharing is the latest collaboration between the German, French and U.S. automakers. Earlier this year, Ford, Daimler and Renault said they would work together on fuel cell development with the aim of selling mass-market hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2017.

Daimler and Renault-Nissan entered an alliance in 2010 to jointly develop and share engines and platforms. In 2011, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the foundation of the partnership would be "small cars and small engines."

As well as the three-cylinder engine for the joint Twingo/Smart development, the two companies will also develop electric variants of their minicars, with Renault supplying the electric motor and Daimler the battery.

Both cars are expected to go on sale next year. The Twingo will be revealed in concept form as the TwinFun today in the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix race on Sunday.

Mercedes' Kemmler said the new Daimler-Renault three-cylinder engine will be a "conventional" turbocharged unit with a range of power outputs. The target CO2 figure is 96 grams per kilometer or the ForTwo. The car's current engine was developed by Mitsubishi, which partnered with Daimler on the unsuccessful Smart ForFour subcompact. Smart stopped ForFour production in 2006 just two years after its market launch.

Kemmler said that Renault's strength with engine development lies in production. "They're very good in large scale manufacturing. We are very good in engineering and special solutions and it works very well together," he said.

Mercedes and Nissan's luxury brand, Infiniti, have partnered on a factory to make Mercedes' 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines in the United States. Infiniti will also use Mercedes' 2.1-liter diesel in the Q50 sedan, which will be a rival to the C class when it goes on sale in Europe autumn this year.

(Daimler strengthens Ford ties with 3-cylinder engine project originally appeared on Automotive News, sub. req.)

By Nick Gibbs- Automotive News