Ford Motor Co. showcased its hybrid and fuel cell vehicles last month at the second annual Electric Transportation Industry Conference in Hollywood Beach, FL, sponsored by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas. The Ford Escape Hybrid – slated to go into production in late 2003 – was on display at the show. The Escape Hybrid will deliver nearly 40 miles per gallon in city driving with its combination electric- and gasoline-powered drive system, according to the automaker. Core to the Escape Hybrid's drivetrain is its hybrid transaxle. Packaged as a single unit, it houses a permanent-magnet electric motor, generator, electronic controller and planetary gear set that directs power among the engine, electric motor, generator and the drive wheels. The vehicle can run on the gasoline engine, the electric motor or both – depending on the driving situation. When the driver calls for maximum acceleration, the gasoline engine and the electric motor team in parallel, providing the performance of a powerful V-6 engine. A 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack is located beneath the rear load floor. Since the battery is charged while braking and cruising, the Escape Hybrid does not need to be plugged in like battery-electric vehicles. In traditional vehicles, energy used to accelerate the car is lost as heat when the driver applies the brakes. The Escape Hybrid is engineered to recover a substantial portion of what would otherwise be lost energy and store it temporarily for use while accelerating again. The vehicle's advanced braking technology is the subject of 51 patent disclosures. The zero-emissions Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) was also featured at the Ford exhibit. Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Research, Ford Motor Company, said there are still many hurdles, but he believes that fuel cells are a technology with the potential someday to replace the internal combustion engine, without compromising the performance and functionality customers expect in a vehicle. "The Ford Focus FCV is our most advanced environmental vehicle ever and gives clear demonstration of future direction," he said. During its test program, Ford expects the Focus FCV is expected to demonstrate a 160-200 mile operating range. The Ford Focus FCV is the second direct-hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle from Ford. The company introduced its first fuel cell vehicle – the P2000 HFC – in January 1998.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials