Ford Showcases Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Plug-In Vehicle During Bush Visit
KANSAS CITY --- Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday showcased a drivable fuel cell hybrid electric plug-in vehicle at the Kansas City assembly plant during a visit by President George W. Bush.
The vehicle combines an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries to deliver more than 41 mpg with zero emissions. It is built on a flexible powertrain architecture that will enable Ford to use new fuel and propulsion technologies.
The new HySeries Drive powertrain featured in a Ford Edge uses a real-world version of the powerplant envisioned in the Ford Airstream concept unveiled in January at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The HySeries Drive powertrain delivers a combined city/highway gasoline equivalent fuel economy rating of 41 mpg. For those who drive less than 50 miles each day, the average jumps to more than 80 mpg.
The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack at all times. The vehicle drives the first 25 miles each day on stored electricity alone, after which the fuel cell begins operating to keep the battery pack charged. This provides another 200 miles of range for a total of 225 miles with zero emissions.
Individual experiences will vary widely and can stretch out the time between fill-ups to more than 400 miles. Drivers with modest daily needs would need to refuel only rarely. Drivers who travel less than 50 miles each day will see fuel economy well over 80 mpg, while those with long daily commutes will see somewhat lower numbers because the fuel cell must run a larger fraction of the time.
The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive can travel at speeds of up to 85 mph. An on-board charger (110/220 VAC) can refresh the battery pack when a standard home outlet is available, making the concept a true plug-in hybrid.
When the battery pack is depleted to approximately 40 percent, the hydrogen fuel cell --– supplied by Ford partner Ballard --– automatically turns on and begins generating electricity to recharge the batteries. Like a conventional automobile, the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive will go until it runs out of fuel --– in this case via a 350-bar hydrogen tank that supplies 4.5 kg of useable hydrogen.
The HySeries Drive name is derived from the powertrain's structure: a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered series hybrid drivetrain. This approach reduces the size, weight, cost and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50 percent, according to Ford. This powertrain architecture enables the use of new fuel and propulsion technologies as they develop and become available without the need to redesign the vehicle and its control systems.
Many significant technical hurdles need to be overcome before a vehicle such as the Edge with HySeries Drive can become a reality, Ford said. Fuel cell vehicles remain expensive, costing millions of dollars each. And the single biggest hurdle to plug-ins remains the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Much work also needs to be done to make fuel cells more durable and to create a hydrogen infrastructure.
Research into hydrogen, including the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive, is part of Ford's overall effort to address the challenges of climate change and energy independence. Ford is moving ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously, including vehicles such as the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid, hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen internal combustion engines, ethanol, clean diesel and refinements to gasoline fueled engines and advanced transmissions.
Some of the technology, such as that seen in Ford’s lineup of hybrid vehicles, represents near-term approaches. Other technologies, including hydrogen fell cells, provide a long-term option, Ford said.