It is very important to me that I, Doug DeMuro, get to the bottom of every issue, and also sometimes to the top, especially if that issue is a scary-looking spider on my ceiling. This is why I’ve decided to devote today’s column to uncovering the giant marketing scheme that is Ford EcoBoost.
Just to be clear, EcoBoost is not a multi-level marketing scheme, like Amway, or HerbaLife, or those timeshare companies where you pay a little now, and a little later, and eventually you end up crying in a 60 Minutes segment about how you can no longer afford to buy laundry detergent. EcoBoost is just a regular ol’ marketing scheme, like those companies that take old clothes, hang them up in a store with loud music, and sell them for the same price as prescription eyewear.
But before we can discuss exactly how EcoBoost is a giant marketing scheme, we must first explain what EcoBoost is for those of you who have not recently eco-boosted your way into a friendly neighborhood Ford dealership.
Here’s the situation: EcoBoost is a name for engine technology that comes in two parts. There is the “eco” part, which is direct fuel injection, and there is the “boost” part, which is turbocharging. Allegedly, all EcoBoost engines contain these two items. I say “allegedly” because I have not personally verified these claims, and I am now taking all automaker statements with a grain of diesel fuel, following revelations that Volkswagen has been lying to us like a Nigerian e-mail scammer.
So Ford is really happy about their EcoBoost technology, and they’ve been putting it in virtually every car they sell, advertising that it offers small-engine fuel economy and big-engine performance. There’s an EcoBoost V6 in the Ford F-150 and Expedition, there’s an EcoBoost 4-cylinder in the Ford Escape and Fusion, and there’s even an EcoBoost 3-cylinder in those tiny little cars that are roughly the same size as an office copy machine.
Now, at this point, you may be wondering exactly how EcoBoost is a marketing scheme if every EcoBoost engine has exactly what it says: eco-friendly direct-injection, and boost-friendly turbocharging. You are probably especially wondering this if you are sitting in the Ford Motor Company legal department, with your hand on the cease and desist button.
Well, here is the reason: the marketing scheme isn’t in the fact that Ford is lying to us, because in fact Ford is very much telling the truth. The marketing scheme is in the fact that EcoBoost is not unique to Ford. In fact, it’s not even close to being unique to Ford. Everyone has EcoBoost. Subaru has EcoBoost. General Motors has EcoBoost. BMW has EcoBoost. Even Volkswagen has EcoBoost, or so they say. For all we know, their cars may actually be carbureted.
I’m not stretching the truth when I say that everyone has EcoBoost. You can get it in a Chevy Malibu. You can get it in a Hyundai Sonata. You can get it in a Mini Cooper. But in those cars, it is merely called what it is: turbocharged direct-injection. Only in a Ford does it have the mythical name, EcoBoost, which – the more I think about it – sounds like an energy drink they would sell in Portland.
Essentially, what Ford has done here is they have taken a fairly common engine technology, they have given it a catchy name, and they have convinced people that you can only get it if you purchase a Ford product. This would be like Oakley saying their sunglasses now come with SuperVisionShield, which is really just lenses.
And here’s the kicker: people are actually believing Ford’s marketing. There are actually people out there, walking around, insisting that their friends try out this great new thing called EcoBoost. In other words: this isn’t just a marketing scheme. This is a brilliant marketing scheme.
I will give you an example. A couple of years ago, I lived in Atlanta, and the city decided it was time to replace their aging fleet of Ford Crown Victoria police cars with some vehicle that wasn’t designed during the Panama Canal planning phase.
So they bought some Tauruses, and they did a press release announcing they had bought some Tauruses, and then a local news article reported that the City of Atlanta had bought hybrid cars. Then, later, there was a correction: these aren’t “officially” hybrids, the article noted. Instead, these cars use Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology, “which is somewhere right below a hybrid.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s right: by taking an existing environmentally-friendly technology and giving it a spiffy, green-sounding name, Ford is successfully convincing the general public that EcoBoost is “right below a hybrid.”
I had completely forgotten about this until a few weeks ago, when I overheard some guys in a restaurant talking about what compact car to purchase. These guys weren’t very into cars, and the usual suggestions were being thrown out – Honda Civic, Mazda3 – until someone said: “Why don’t you try Ford? Don’t they have that new EcoBoost thing?”
What new EcoBoost thing? Oh, that’s right. That brilliant new marketing scheme from Ford.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.