Cylinder deactivation is a feature that we see mainly on high end vehicles. No, that is not because it is expensive, but because it is mainly the bigger V8s and V10s that make use of it. Ford on the other hand is in the process of introducing the Ecosport Ecoboost with the same technology, thus making it the first small engined vehicle to get this feature.
What is it?
Cylinder de-activation is when a cylinder or two is deactivated while driving when the requirement for power is not much. In case of larger V8s, it enables them to run on 4-cylinders, thus saving fuel and keeping emissions low. There are however criterias which are to be met for the cylinder to be deactivated, like speed, throttle input and engine speed (rpm). In the case of the Ecoboost engine, being a 3-cylinder one, only one cylinder will be deactivated, making it a 2-cylinder vehicle.
How is it helpful?
Since a cylinder is shut, that means the engine is using lesser fuel and since lesser power is being generated, the emissions too are lesser which means its a win-win situation. Given that we barely apply much load on the engine in our daily commute, this will be of a lot of help to save fuel and lower emissions on the whole. The company believes that this system could make the vehicle more efficient by 6%.
How does it work?
Depending upon the load on the engine, the ECU will decide how much power is needed. If the ECU feels the engine is not required in full capacity, the ECU will cut fuel to a cylinder and also shut the valve from operaing. This is done using engine oil pressure to activate a special valve rocker that interrupts the connection between the camshaft and the valves of the cylinder.
The system will engage and dis-engage in 14 milliseconds, which will not let you know when the cylinder is off and when it is on. Yes, this means increased NVH though and the company is working on ways to counter that and make sure that the engagement is smooth. The engine can run upto a speed of 4500 rpm with the cylinder deactivated.
In a bid to improve the NVH, the company has resorted to a dual-mass flywheel, an offset crankshaft configuration and a vibration damping clutch which helps to keep engine NVH in check when running on 2-cylinders. The engine mounts and the suspension have also been retuned to provide the best possible refinement.
Coming to India?
Well Ford currently has the Ecosport Ecoboost on sale here. Though it isn’t selling in really high numbers, we expect the company to continue to sell the new one when the face lift comes out later next year. It would be very interesting if Ford can bring this technology to India, since we are mainly an efficiency seeking market. Globally, the Ecoboost comes in 3 states of tune, 99 Bhp, 123 Bhp and 137 Bhp. The one that is offered in India is the 123 Bhp version in the Ecosport.