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Ford Fiesta TECH One - in simplicity we trust
The Fiesta Van is a small delivery vehicle featuring a 1,25-litre Duratec petrol engine, good for 60 kW (82 PS) of power and 114 Nm of torque. The modest engine has been converted to run on LPG with LPGTECH's latest ECU, the TECH One. It's a budget-oriented solution comprising the essence of LPGTECH's finest technology, but at a very reasonable price.
The TECH One ECU has been designed for engines with up to 4 cylinders and has all the features of more advanced models. All but a few, actually – it doesn't support OBD, but an external OBD module can be connected should need arise to monitor the car's on-board diagnostics' parameters. Also, the TECH One cannot be used on Valvetronic (throttle-less) and Wankel engines and it doesn't feature injector pre-heating and automatic LPG level indicator calibration, as well as several other minor functions.
On the other hand, the TECH One is the only ECU in the LPGTECH family to feature semi-conductor injector emulators (which is a new thing for LPGTECH in general). Thanks to this solution it is possible to successfully execute petrol interjections at doses preset by the installer. The option is used to protect the engine or enhance its performance within certain speed and load ranges.
The ECU is housed in a small, plastic case. It's easy to mount and inexpensive to manufacture. Communication with the outer world is carried out via a 24-pin connector socket. Interestingly, only 3 wires (instead of previously used 5) are connected into the LPG/petrol switch inside the car. The limited number of wires in TECH One's harness causes the electrovalve on the LPG tank to open immediately after start-up (if the LPG/petrol switch is in the LPG position). However, this is not a limitation of the autogas system, but – on the contrary – an advantage, since the earlier opening of the electrovalve makes the switchover from petrol to LPG smoother.
And speaking of switchover, it has been fine-tuned to the smallest detail, so that the change of fuel from petrol to LPG is very hard to notice, with no roughness or jolting. And mind you, we conducted the test drives at relatively low ambient temperatures. The temperature threshold for switchover has been set at merely 20 degrees Celsius, which means the engine would switch over to LPG after driving some 600 m since start-up (at 0 degrees Celsius ambient temperature). Also, the engine speed threshold was very low – 300 rpm. This means the engine would switch over even when idling, with no unwanted symptoms.
Running the Fiesta through the dyno revealed slight performance decrease in LPG mode compared to petrol mode. When running on LPG, the engine generated 82 PS and 111 Nm, while on petrol the figures were 86 PS and 115 Nm. However, actual performance on petrol was better than declared by Ford, so the figures achieved on LPG are actually the same as promised by the car's manufacturer (although torque has dropped by a mere 2,5 percent). The power and torque graphs were virtually parallel, which goes to show the autogas system has been calibrated very precisely.
According to Ford, cargo capacity of the Fiesta Van is 1 m3. That's a lot for a car used primarily by sales representatives, but the abundance of space allowed LPGTECH to fit a large LPG tank into the car. It's big enough to provide driving range appropriate to the car's mode of use, while at the same time it doesn't significantly limit the cargo space. The tank is a cylinder made by Bormech. Its gross capacity is 100 l and net capacity is 80 l. According to LPGTECH, this amount of fuel is good for over 800 km of driving without refueling. The LPG filling valve is under the petrol filler flap.
Safety of the autogas system is provided by the tank's Tomasetto AT02 multivalve. It features a TECH Level fuel level sensor that has no mechanical parts whatsoever – it uses the Hall effect to operate. The sensor is connected to the fuel level display integrated into the LPG/petrol switch. However, the TECH Level as such has no dial to allow evaluation of the LPG level in the tank. Liquid LPG flows via an LPGTECH flexible fuel line to the front of the car, towards the engine bay. The flexible line can be set at acute angles with no risk of breakage or limiting flow capacity.
The fuel line has been set under the car with much attention, using the profiles of the underbody. Up front the line exits the profile through its lower part. Even though it's protected, the line has contact with the profile's lower surface, thus being prone to damage. True, nearby there's a front suspension bar fixing strut, which is thicker than the LPG line, but still we wouldn't like to have fuel lines set this way in our cars. In our opinion the line should exit the profile through its side wall. Power wires for the electrovalve's coil on the tank's multivalve run along the LPG line. This is a standard solution, although some installers set the wires inside the car, thus providing them with more protection.
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