DEARBORN, MI – Ford Motor Co. likely will ditch TwinForce as the name of its upcoming family of direct-injection, turbocharged engines, the auto maker’s chief engineer says.

Ford initially branded the engine technology as TwinForce, designed to wring V8-like performance from a V-6, when it unveiled its Lincoln MKR concept car at the 2007 Detroit auto show.

However, the TwinForce moniker caused confusion from the onset, as it was immediately associated solely with the MKR powerplant’s twin turbocharger technology. In reality, the name was supposed to call attention to the performance and fuel-economy attributes of the engine, a Ford official says.

TwinForce “was a good thought, but we’re trying to make it more understandable for customers and make sure they understand this is a substantial fuel-economy benefit,” says Derrick Kuzak, group vice president-global product development. “We’re not sure TwinForce gave that impression.”

If TwinForce is abandoned, Ford may come up with a new brand name for the technology, Kuzak says. “We’re working through whether we need to brand it, and frankly I think we do.”

Jim Farley, who recently left Toyota Motor Corp. to serve as Ford’s group vice president of marketing and communications, echoes Kuzak.

“We absolutely have to brand it,” Farley says. “We have to come up with a name, and we’re in the midst of that right now.”

Ford officially hasn’t announced the first application of the DI-turbo engine, but during a recent media preview of the ’09 Lincoln MKS, Kuzak said that within a year of launch the flagship sedan would be offered with a “premium engine that will absolutely help set the vehicle apart, both in terms of its performance and fuel efficiency.”

If the upcoming MKS is indeed made available with a powerful, turbocharged DI V-6, marketing it to consumers accustomed to V-8s won’t be difficult, Farley promises.

“Nowadays, customers are really focused on fuel economy,” he says. “Even in luxury cars, we see fuel economy as a purchase motivation.

“The issue is how to market fuel economy for a luxury vehicle. That for me is more difficult than convincing someone they can get V8-like performance and great fuel economy.”

Meanwhile, Farley says he “hasn’t felt more alive” since leaving Toyota for his position at Ford.

“There is something special happening at Ford,” he says. “We’re a right-sized, lean and hungry company. It reminds me of another company I joined years ago.”

bpope@wardsauto.com