Home / Ford / Motor Mixtape: Drivers Aren’t Shifting, so Ford Wants to Pump Up the (Engine) Volume

Motor Mixtape: Drivers Aren’t Shifting, so Ford Wants to Pump Up the (Engine) Volume


In the 1960s, automakers wanted to put a tiger in your tank, but now Ford Motor Company wants a howler monkey under your dash.

The automaker was concerned that drivers used to “shifting by ear” aren’t getting the gas mileage their efficient, small-displacement engines were designed for, so it patented an acoustic device that mimics a bigger powerplant, Autoblog reports.

Small turbo engines reach peak torque at low rpm’s, but that isn’t when drivers of manual transmission models were shifting, Ford found. Lack of sensory input is to blame — most drivers’ eyes are on the road, not the tachometer.

As a result, real world gas mileage suffers. The solution? Create the impression of more cylinders pumping away under the hood.

Ford’s patent would generate the noise of cylinders firing, and inject that noise into the vehicle cabin in the gaps between the firing of the vehicle’s own cylinders.

“This has the effect of creating a virtual engine noise to virtually increase the number of cylinders in an internal combustion engine,” the patent states.

Like supercar kit body dropped on a Fiero, the effect would be an outright lie, but the only people to hear it would be inside the vehicle. It would be less obnoxious than installing a coffee can exhaust tip on every new subcompact Ford.

When Ford talks about small-displacement engines, it means those with less than four cylinders, like the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder found in the Fiesta and Focus.

Because the shifting issue only concerns row-your-own models, which are increasingly unpopular in North America, the invention — if installed at the factory — wouldn’t be experienced by many domestic drivers. At least, not initially.

Power-to-displacement levels are rising, so there could come a time when your F-150 has to mimic the sound of a V8 due to its lawnmower-sized motor.

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