By: Carla Thomaz
20th February 2009Automotive manufacturer Ford Motor Company has launched an aggressive plan to bring pure battery-electric vehicles, next-generation hybrids and a plug-in hybrid to the market quickly and more affordably within the next four years. This is part of Ford’s pursuit for greater fuel economy, lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and sustainability while tackling climate change and energy security.
Ford executive chairperson Bill Ford says: “I think that is where society would like to see the entire industry go, and Ford is going to lead that charge.” The company has over 100 patent applications in progress, two full hybrid vehicles, which are on the market, and three more on the way. The company has been conducting fuel cell research for more than ten years.
Since 1996, Ford has sold more than 1,6-million vehicles that run on ethanol, a renewable fuel made from corn or other starch feedstock. Ford has designed flexible fuel vehicles that can run on E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol, regular petrol or a combination of the two.
The company has developed the first sports hybrid sports utility vehicle with full hybrid technology. The vehicle can operate on the electric motor, the petrol engine or on both. Unlike other hybrid vehicles, full hybrids can run exclusively on electric mode during slower speeds and do not need to engage the internal combustion engine as long as there is enough power stored in the battery. The full hybrid technology emits 81% less emissions than regular vehicles.
The Focus FCV is one of the industry’s first hybridised fuel cell vehicles that combine the range and performance of hybrid technology with the overall environmental benefits of a fuel cell. The Ford Edge with the HySeries Drive is also the world’s first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric plug-in that combines an on-board hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries that deliver zero emissions.
The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 336-V lithium-ion battery pack at all times. An on-board charger allows for the battery pack to be refreshed when a standard home outlet is avail- able, making the concept a true plug-in hybrid. These new vehicles pave the way for additional applications in the future, using Ford’s high-volume global small car and midsize car platforms.
Ford’s plan calls for strategic partnering with key suppliers who will develop technologies, standards and cost efficiencies to commercialise electrified vehicles, according to the Ford vision. Ford is collaborating with a number of high-tech partners to accelerate the commercialisation of alternative-fuel-powered vehicles quickly and affordably.
Ford is working with global supplier of automotive systems Magna International to bring a new lithium-ion battery-powered small vehicle to the North American market in 2011. The company is also road-testing a fleet of Ford Escape hybrid plug-ins with electric utility Southern California Edison and the research and development institute, the Electric Power Research Institute.
Ford has also entered into a four-way ecopartnership in China, expanding its global expertise in electric-powered vehicles. Ford and Chinese auto- maker Changan Auto Group and the cities of Chongqing, in China, and Denver, are exploring ways to develop projects to help further energy security and promote economic and environmental sustainability through the development of electrified vehicle technologies, green city planning, efficient urban transportation and grid integration.
In the UK, Ford is collaborating with manufacturer of battery-powered vehicles Tanfield to offer battery-electric versions of the Ford Transit and Transit Connect commercial vehicles for fleet customers in the UK and European markets.
Edited by: Laura Tyrer