Ford plans to adjust vehicle systems to improve the on-road fuel economy of its 2013-MY hybrids sold in the U.S. and Canada beginning in August. Models to receive the updates include the C-MAX Hybrid, the Fusion Hybrid, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Systems on 2014-MY and later vehicles will be calibrated at the new settings from the factory.
These changes include a number of adjustments. The company first plans to increase the maximum electric-only speed from 62 mph to 85 mph, allowing for longer electric-only mode usage on highways. Next, Ford said it will optimize the use of these active grille shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under a wider range of driving conditions, including in cold weather, when the driver is using the air conditioning, and when the engine coolant temperature is higher.
Next, Ford said it will reduce the electric fan speed, based on coolant temperature, to minimize the fan’s energy use. Other changes include reducing the engine’s warm-up time by up to 50 percent to enable electric-only driving mode use and engine shutdown at stops sooner after cold starts, and optimizing these vehicles’ climate control systems to minimize use of the air conditioning system’s compressor and the amount of energy the system uses in cold weather conditions.
“Just as individual mileage can vary based on driving styles and environmental conditions, we expect fuel economy improvements will differ from customer to customer depending on individual driving habits,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, for Ford. “Customers should see the most improvement at highway speeds, during air conditioner use and operation in colder climates.”
Ford also said it plans to invest more in its electrification engineering team, with plans to grow it to 500 salaried employees this year, and is investing an additional $50 million in product development and testing centers in Dearborn for electrified vehicles. The company also said it will double its electrification battery-testing capabilities by the end of the year in order to speed up hybrid and electric vehicle development by as much as 25 percent.
Automotive Fleet reached out to Ford to find out what fleet buyers should do to ensure their vehicles receive these updates and is waiting on official information from the company.