'Eco' Issues Top of Mind at Ford Advisory Board Meeting
Boosting fuel efficiency, through product innovations and mpg-paring driver training, was a focus of the Ford North American Fleet, Lease, and Remarketing Operations Fleet Advisory Board (FAB) meeting held in early October at the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. Other presentation topics during the three-day gathering included safety, consumer trends, battery technology, manufacturing processes, and new products.
Board members, who include fleet industry professionals, serve three years, meeting semiannually to provide a fleet perspective on new products and concepts, services, and industry trends.
Ford North American Fleet, Lease, and Remarketing Operations held its fall FleetAdvisory Board (FAB) meeting at the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters.
Testing Ford’s EcoBoost Engines
Following a product presentation on Ford’s new 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 engines, FAB members evaluated the powertrain in comparison drives on the automaker’s test track.
According to Ford, the EcoBoost technology "delivers reliable V-8 power with V-6 fuel economy." Driven the equivalent of more than 500,000 miles in durability testing, the new engine debuts next year on the Lincoln MKS.
Sue Miller, senior fleet manager, domestic fleet, for McDonald’s, favorably reviewed the turbocharged powertrain after driving an EcoBoost engine-equipped Fusion, MKS, and F-150.
"This was an amazing experience. Being able to drive vehicles side-by-side for immediate comparison really made the improvements pop. There was no mistaking how great the new product is," said Miller.
"I was impressed with the performance of the Fusion. I experienced no slow-down or engine-dragging fuel injection performance with the turboboost engine," said fellow FAB member Nancy Barlage, fleet administrator for Minneapolis-based Regis Corp.
The Fleet Advisory Board meeting included comparison drives on Ford’s test track.
Eco-Driving to Change Habits
Board members also participated in a new Ford initiative, Eco-Driving training. The one-on-one coaching program emphasizes small incremental driving behavior changes that cumulatively can achieve up to 20-percent improvement in fuel economy.
Barlage, whose 1,100-vehicle fleet includes Fusion, E-250, Focus, and Fiesta (in the U.K) models, appreciated the training course. "I am looking for ways to educate our drivers on these processes. My group gained 3 mpg during our test drive. That can be huge savings overall!"
Barlage plans to introduce the Eco-Driving concept to her drivers, then "emphasize one ‘baby step’ at a time" so drivers can habituate the steps. Additionally, she will use other sources, including tips from Ford’s fleet communications, e.g., its newsletter, as well as Web sites with fuel-conscious educational resources.
"The Eco-Driving training is almost like performing magic," said Miller. "With some very simple common sense, no-hurry driving, and behavior changes, our mpg increased 20 percent. And that was the crash course. Imagine what a full training could provide."
Based on the training, Miller said she "will incorporate the simplicity of the Eco-Driving, communicating the ability to obtain big results with very minimal cost or effort" in communications with McDonald’s drivers.
The 3,700-vehicle McDonald’s fleet includes primarily the Escape/Mariner, followed by Taurus/Sable, Fusion/Milan, and Explorer/Mountaineer (in that order), noted Miller.