DEARBORN, MI – Ford enters unchartered waters with the announcement it will build a 1.0L 3-cyl. turbocharged direct-injected EcoBoost engine, its smallest production engine ever.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president-global product development, says the time is right for the diminutive engine, which will be sold in all global markets, including North America.

Five years ago, when Kuzak announced the arrival of the EcoBoost engine lineup, the strategy was met with skepticism, and he anticipates a similar reaction to the 1.0L.

“Some said we were crazy, that North American customers would never accept a V-6 in lieu of a V-8, never accept fewer cylinders and never accept smaller displacement,” Kuzak says here.

“Over the past five years, the world has changed considerably. Customers are much more interested in smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles,” he adds, noting the new engine will arrive by 2013.

The auto maker also says it plans a new 8-speed transmission, which will be paired with larger vehicles. Ford is mum on applications for the transmission but says the 1.0L engine will be used to power C-segment and smaller cars around the globe.

The engine previously was featured in the Ford Start concept car at the Beijing auto show and the Ford B-Max in Geneva.

Developed at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre in the U.K., the new engine boasts a number of technologies designed to improve efficiency.

Among the features is a new Ford-designed split cooling system that allows the block to warm up before the cylinder head, which saves fuel.

“Warming up the oil as quick as possible reduces friction,” says Joe Bakaj, vice president-global powertrain engineering. “Split cooling allows us not to circulate water around the block, but maintain cold water to the cylinder heads and turbo.”

The split-cooling system does not add weight to the vehicle but costs more due to the control valves needed to split the coolant flow, he says.

For now, the new cooling system will be used only on the 1.0L EcoBoost, because “you can only implement it with an all-new architecture,” Bakaj says without ruling out the possibility the system will be used in future powertrain programs.

The exhaust manifold is integrated within the cylinder head, which lowers the temperature of the exhaust gases and allows the engine to operate in a wider speed band with an optimal fuel-to-air ratio.

The unique setup, which Ford claims is an industry first for an engine this size, shaves some 2 lbs. (0.9 kg). Bakaj says it’s likely the integrated design will make its way to other Ford engines. “It’s a relatively major change, because it’s an all-new cylinder head. But yes, we could do it.”

To reduce side loading of the pistons, the 1.0L has an offset crankshaft, which cuts friction 3% to 5%. The unorthodox setup is a “subtle, yet important detail,” Bakaj says.

The new engine is part of Ford’s EcoBoost rollout, which calls for 90% of its North American and 80% of its global nameplates to have some version of the powertrain architecture by 2013.

Kuzak hints Ford now is considering adding the technology to its hybrid-electric vehicle lineup.

“We’re looking into EcoBoost hybrids,” he says. “Right now, we’re using Atkinson-cycle engines, but there may be opportunities for EcoBoost hybrids in the future.”

Ford is tightlipped on the expected output or fuel economy of the new engine but promises it will be among the most efficient powerplants it has ever built.

Prototypes equipped with the 1.0L already are on the road, and Bakaj says he’s “amazed” at the low noise, vibration and harshness levels, a common problem among downsized engines. “It has a great sound to it; slightly different than a 4-cyl., but not high-revving at all.”

Ford has not said where the engine will be built.

The new 8-speed transmission is expected to increase fuel economy by 2% to 6% and will “be the first (gearbox) with a number of advanced new technologies that provide faster, smoother and more positive shifts,” Bakaj says.

Among the new technologies is an input torque sensor that measures the amount of torque coming into the transmission, enabling faster gear selection and smoother shifts. Actuators are integrated for precise control of hydraulic pressure within the gearbox.

Meanwhile, another new transmission, to be installed in HEVs, begins production later this year at Ford’s Van Dyke, MI, transmission plant.

Kuzak says Ford decided to bring production of the continuously variable hybrid transmission in-house due to the increased interest in electrified vehicles. Transmissions in Ford hybrids today are sourced from the Japanese supplier Aisin.

“It’s absolutely essential for Ford to further develop its core competencies in engineering electrified powertrains,” he says.

Little is revealed about the new hybrid transmission, except it will power a new plug-in hybrid beginning next year, which is expected to be the C-Max Energi cross/utility vehicle.