New Ford Eco-Boost V6 Needs Sales Boost?

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Die-hard Ford fans and industry observers alike (myself included) have been quick to give Ford credit for creating the Eco-Boost V6. What’s not to love about a fuel-efficient twin-turbo V6 with torque and horsepower figures that are comparable to a V8?

Indeed, Ford’s Eco-Boost has been considered the “next evolution” of truck engines because it’s becoming harder and harder for V8 engines to satisfy new fuel economy and emissions rules. Ford was very smart to bring the Eco-Boost to market, as they are ahead of the curve in terms of efficiency.

Ford Eco-Boost V6 Cash Back

Ford has begun discounting their most advanced truck engine - why?

HOWEVER, many people (including myself) wondered if the Eco-Boost would be accepted by consumers. Considering today’s news that Ford is offering an extra $500 cash back on certain F150s with the EcoBoost engine, it sounds like consumers aren’t quite ready to jump on the twin-turbo V6 band wagon. At least not in their trucks.

The question: Is this about the EcoBoost, or is this about truck buyers?

Since there is almost no data to suggest the Eco-Boost V6 is a bad engine, and since there are so many positive reviews of the engine (here, here, and here, for example), it’s hard to believe that people aren’t buying the Eco-Boost because of something they’ve read or heard.

Still, car manufacturers don’t put cash incentives on brand new high-tech engines unless they start to sense consumers aren’t interested…which is why this news about a $500 cash incentive on some Eco-Boost F150s is so interesting. My theory?

Truck Buyers Often Resist Change

It’s no secret that truck owners are a technologically stubborn bunch. I can think of half a dozen technological enhancements/advances that many truck owners have resisted or object to currently:

  • Automatic hubs and electronic transfer cases
  • Streamlined/aerodynamic body work (remember the anger over the new streamlined looks in the late 90’s?)
  • The elimination of manual transmissions despite the increased capability and improved fuel economy of automatics
  • Composite truck beds (like Toyota has with the Tacoma)
  • Traction and stability control
  • Aluminum heads (remember the aluminum head hub-bub with the Duramax?)
  • Variable valve timing (Toyota was roundly criticized for the i-Force 4.7’s VVTi back in 2000)

To be clear, I understand a lot of these objections and I hold some myself. I’m a fan of traction and stability control, but I’m also a fan of being able to disable electronic nannies (and it’s not easy to disable stability control on a Tundra). I’m a fan of automatic transmissions, but I recognize why others aren’t. I like the convenience of automatic hubs, but I’ve seen first-hand why many heavy off-road users hate them.

When it comes right down to it, truck owners don’t usually endorse new technology. If I had to guess, I would say it’s because, generally speaking, truck buyers have quite a bit more mechanical knowledge and experience than your typical car buyer (excepting perhaps a sports car buyer). As a result of this experience, truck buyers are often happy with existing tools and technology and see very little reason to upgrade something that already works.

Which brings us back to Ford’s Eco-Boost V6. Last year, I talked about the fact that many would question the Eco-Boosts durability, and it seemed that Ford had many of the same concerns about consumer perceptions. Why else would they have arranged their “Eco-Boost Tear Down” gimmick?

Bottom Line: Ford’s Eco-Boost engine may represent the future of all truck engines, but that doesn’t mean truck buyers are excited about it. It says here that Ford will have to work to sell the Eco-Boost engine until they can demonstrate conclusively that it is reliable…and that will take years.

In the meantime, Ford must be careful about discounting the Eco-Boost. Too many cash incentives might give consumers the wrong idea about this engine.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Joshua says:

    I have to agree for the most part. Im not a Ford guy to begin with but I give them credit for trying to do something new. I had a Jeep before my Tundra and it had a manual lever transfer case and a mechanical limited slip. The two things still dont like about my Trundra? The electronic T-case switch and the electronic limited slip. However, eventhough I dont like these things about my Tundra they have yet to do anything wrong or break, its more of an old habbit thing. And yes I love my big V8 in my Tundra and will die before giving that up! 🙂

  2. texmln says:

    What’s not to love about a twin-turbo V6 with V8 numbers? TWO things – the turbochargers. 100% GUARANTEED to cause you a problem at some point and be incredibly expensive to fix. Truck buyers know better because many of us spend a lot of time building or fixing stuff either for a living or in our spare time. We already know all about gimmicks like turbos and the expensive and time consuming damage they cause.

  3. Jason (Admin) says:

    Joshua – I know a lot of people feel the same way about the electronics…it’s a double-edged sword. Thanks for commenting!

    texmln – I agree that the turbos will eventually break. Now if that happens after 150k (as Ford says) I think most people will accept that…but I also think that it’s going to be hard to charge a premium for an engine that may fail half-way through a vehicle’s potential life.

    I think that you guys are definitely not alone – Ford’s $500 cash rebate proves as much.

  4. BobG says:

    First of all, I say kudos to Ford for at least thinking outside of the box. Time will tell if this proves out to be reliable. As for me, though, I still have this gut feeling that demanding that much power out of such a small displacement will have issues down the road, especially if a lot of heavy towing is involved.

  5. KEVEN ZIEGELT says:

    texmln: yeah, like all the diesels have so many problems with their turbos. they get 300,000 miles all day with little if any turbo problems.It is always easy to criticize. If you are right you can crow about it.If you are wrong about it ,you just go back to your hole and nobody hears from you any more.

  6. Jason (Admin) says:

    BobG – Agreed. Ford deserves a lot of credit for being first to market with this. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for anyone to have reservations about a new engine, especially when a twin-turbo setup is involved.

    Keven – Excellent point – diesels with turbos have been going strong for more than a decade. Except for the 6.0 anyways, but that was only the first couple of years.

    Still, your point stands: turbos aren’t inherently bad. As for texmln being right or wrong, he’s entitled to his opinion just as you are. I can say with confidence that, all things being equal, a turbo-charged vehicle is inherently less reliable because it is more complex. What the difference is in the real world? Hard to say.

  7. Joshua says:

    Jason-Just remembered, I was at the Portland auto show a couple weeks ago and checked out the Ford booth just for fun. I didnt see a F-150 Eco-boost, I found that a little interesting. If it was there I didnt see it, but in any case I thought that would be a “big thing” for Ford to show off.

  8. Justin says:

    I don’t see this as a negative about the motor or way to get it on the streets. If so, Ford would offer the $500 EB3.5L rebate on all F150 models, not just the XLT trim line. So you can’t get the deal if you purchase an STX, FX2, FX4, Lariat, KR, HD, Lariat Limited or any other trim lines I’m missing. And yes, while the XLT trim is the high seller (volume wise), I think people in this class of truck are still more likely to opt for the 5.0L.

    Also, I think that deal must be regional or by market. I was at the dealer last Wednesday, 2/16, and the only rebates they had for the CO market on the F150, other than your typical military and college grad type rebates, were $1500 off XLT w/Chrome pkg and I think it was $2500-$3000 off an XLT w/chrome + sync. Otherwise no mention of a $500 EB3.5L rebate.

  9. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – Good to know. Back in my Ford days, we would see targeted rebates and/or cash back on vehicles Ford was trying to move. My guess is that the new 5.0L is more attractive to XLT buyers, and I can’t say that I blame them. They’re less expensive and marginally more powerful by most accounts. Aside from the fuel economy benefits (which are significant), the engine isn’t much different. Toss in a little anti-V6 thinking and boom – slower than expected sales.

    My guess is that in 2 years Ford won’t be putting cash on the EcoBoost, let alone in 6 months.

  10. TXTee says:

    $500 isn’t enough of a rebate to get me to care about any vehicle.

  11. Jason (Admin) says:

    TXTee – You’re right about that, but it does help dealers make special deals. Back in my Ford dealership days, we would order “ad units” based on the available rebates to try and have a truck on the lot that would be as cheap as possible, then we would put it in the newspaper and hope for some traffic.

    Obviously the newspaper doesn’t work anymore, but I’m guessing dealers needed some cash to order the EcoBoost in an XLT. The 5.0 is cheaper and consumers are less resistant to it, so the cash is the best way to get dealer ordering managers interested (my opinion).

  12. Justin says:

    According to Ford, the EB 3.5L is selling just fine on its own and doesn’t look like owners are hesitant to purchase a turbo V6. Oh course the EB 3.5L are a lot rarer than the 3.7L V6 and 5.0L, but still shows they don’t sit on lots too long.

    “Ford says that the EcoBoost V6 is the “fastest turning” pickup in its lineup, meaning it sits on dealership lots for the least amount of time.”

  13. Chris says:

    The Incentive has nothing to do with customers being apprehensive to the EcoBoost. It is more to drive interest for the entire F150 line up. I have been trying to get an F150 EcoBoost for a few weeks now and can’t get one. Dealers will not come off the sticker more then about $1k due to the high demand. Most trucks are staying on the lot no longer then 36 hours so I would say it looks like, at least in my market, that there is no demand problem.

  14. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – Fast turn rates are definitely a good sign. Perhaps Ford just wanted to give the sales a little kick-start.

    Chris – Interesting. Are you talking 3.5 or 3.7?

  15. Clearenigma says:

    Can a man still find a full P/U Truck with a seating for six? I mean new without having to spend few week ends modifying the thing? Manual locking front hubs and a stick. All in a reliable package. I mean reliable way past the warranty period. I don’t need flimsy decals or GPS gizmos. Seems like all current offerings, but especially more from Detroit, are nothing but sheeps in wolfs clothing.

  16. Jason (Admin) says:

    Clearenigma – Manual locking hubs and a stick shift in a crew cab…can’t you still order a new Ram HD crew with a stick? If you can, all you need to do is get someone to replace your automatic hubs with a manual hubs (not sure if that’s possible).

    As to your larger point, I understand your feelings but feel obligated to state the obvious: stick shifts and manual hubs are in the past. Reliability? Better than ever, but there’s still room for improvement? 6 people in a crew? Tundra Grade has a bench seat up front…

  17. don says:

    I have a 2011 f150 Eco boost 3.5 v6. It should be called the ECO BEAST.What a great Truck it has everything.No 1/2 ton Chevy Dodge Or Tundra could compare. Ford has done a great all around job! Sorry to all you HATERS.No reason not to buy AMERICAN!!!!

  18. Josh says:

    I we want to buy American we would buy Tundras 🙂

  19. Jason (Admin) says:

    Don – Glad to hear your F-150 is running strong – Ford does do a great job. But no other truck could compare? I don’t know about that.

    Also, like Josh said, Tundra is more American than F-150 according to federal data.

  20. Justin says:

    Doesn’t look like Ford is having any issues selling the EcoBoost without incentives.

    The 3.5L EB accounted for 41% of the F150’s bought in May. The EB also made up 37% of the F150s sold in April.

  21. Jason (Admin) says:

    Justin – I saw that link myself and I’m amazed. I guess that whatever issues Ford had with ecoboost sales back in February are over.

  22. Steve says:

    Hey does any one have the eco boost in the 3.44 gear? and if so how does it perform. I am looking at one instead of the 3.73 (11,300lb towing).

  23. Steve says:

    oops type 3.55 gear

  24. mason 808 says:

    I pull my 33′ camper alot.Bought an 05 f 250 with the 5.4 and had nothin but problems! Traded it in on an 08 nissan titan.mainly for the torque at a lower rpm than other trucks. the 150 EB blows my mind with 420 torque at 2500 rpm. No other truck with any size motor comes close to that with the exception of a diesel.

  25. Brian says:

    Love my 2011 EB F150. Getting 23MPG HWY and it has plenty of torque when I need it. Love the turbo’s too.

  26. Drew44 says:

    I have been a Ford owner my whole life, my wife drives a ECOBOOST with 3.73 rear… I love the truck I was at the dealer purchasing my wife and I new trucks the show room floor was loaded with people wanting the ECOBOOST, I used the truck to tow a 28ft bumper pull camper to my lease where I had all kinds of obsticles to over come such as mudd slippery roads trailor sway control with low end torque nothing stoped us….. Keep it up FORD…. I love my 6.7 as well way to come back

  27. bills driveway garage says:

    any engineers out there?

    ok, my question is, force = mass x acceleration

    isn’t there more mass x acceleration in a v8?

    I believe the v8s have more mass, crankshaft, rods and pistons, flywheel,
    the ecoboost numbers I see say torque starts at 1400 rpm,
    90% at 700 through peak, somewhere around 5000 rpm

    same trans

    so, how can the ecoboost have more torque than the small v8? and how can it pull a trailer uphill better?

    what is the mpg difference? what are the numbers at different uphill grades pulling what I want to pull,
    about 4500 to 5500 lb car trailer?

    I just saw a ecoboost teardown at the Checkout the strength of the main caps. very thick, very big, as big as for instance a chrysler 360, 6 bolts, 2 side bolts, 2 through the engine combo girdle/windage tray. strong bottom end could contribute a lot to stability and reliability, torgue starts at 1400, 90% 1700 to peak, the strong bottom end should compensate for multi directional thrusts under load, so, I would like to have one to test as my race car tow vehicle

    • Carey says:

      Reverse your equation. To accelerate more mass at the same rate takes more force. Conversely, pressure on the piston puts force on the connecting rod times 1/2 the stroke = torque on the crankshaft. a ROUGH rule of thumb for turbos is double the power from the same displacement (more air, more fuel, more power). Combined with less mass in the engine’s moving parts means more power to MOVE the vehicle. To put it simply, if your engine’s moving parts weighed a ton, most of the power produced would go into accelerating the engine parts vice moving the vehicle.

  28. Jim says:

    found your site by accident and was curious about the comments. toyota would like to be ths truck sales leader for 35 years like the F-series! tundra is a nice piece and built well but the F150 has my vote…BTW, just what I want to do is go to a toyota site to get advice about a ford

  29. steve says:

    if your only guna use the coboost for lite work i think the trubos wont give u a problem, as they dont in the deisels or any cars for that matter. im a storong supporter of an ecoboost and my first vehicle is going to be one!!! YEAAAA!!

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