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Ford tests new lithium ion and fuel cell applications
In Escape Plug-In Hybrid and Edge HySeries Drive

Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid

The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid uses common household current (120 volts) for charging, with the full charge completed in 6-8 hours. It is not range-limited by the lithium-ion battery, because once the battery charge is depleted, the vehicle continues to operate as a standard Ford Escape Hybrid.

APN,
26 Dec. 2007.

Pursuing its environmental and fuel economy efforts, Ford Motor Company is advancing plug-in hybrid technology through two different applications on research vehicles to help improve the functionality and durability of lithium-ion battery packs and the future commercialisation of plug-in hybrid technology.

The two applications include the Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid with lithium-ion battery and the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive, the world’s first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle with plug-in capability.

2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid, brother of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid.

Mercury Mariner Hybrid, brother of the Ford Escape Hybrid.

On the Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid side, the first demonstration vehicle was delivered to Southern California Edison for testing in early December. Under a two-year partnership with the utility company, a 20-unit fleet will be tested in California, first in the utility’s electric vehicle fleet, and later with selected residential customers.

The delivery comes just five months after Ford and Southern California Edison announced their collaboration to advance the commercialisation of plug-ins by exploring the values of new technologies and new business models when the battery is connected to the home and, in time, the electrical grid. 

The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV), capable of delivering up to 120 miles per U.S. gallon (equivalent to 144 UK mpg, 1.96 litres / 100 km, 51 km / litre), would mean far fewer trips to the gas station.

J Mays, Ford group vice president, Design and Chief Creative Officer, presenting the Ford Airstream Concept with its HySeries Drive technology, at the 2007 Detroit auto show.

J Mays, Ford group vice president, Design and Chief Creative Officer, presenting the Ford Airstream Concept with its HySeries Drive technology, at the 2007 Detroit auto show.

Sherif Marakby, chief engineer for Ford’s Global Core Hybrid Engineering, explained that to deliver such a fuel economy to the customer, at a value that is not cost prohibitive, Ford is working with partners such as Southern California Edison, to identify new business models. He added : "Such models could address battery ownership issues and customer, utility and automaker value as it relates to the electrification of vehicles.”

One of the major practical aspects of the parallel hybrid electric vehicle is that it uses common household current (120 volts) for charging, with a full charge of the battery completed within six to eight hours.

Ford says that when the Escape PHEV is driven on surface streets for the first 30 miles (48 km) following a full charge, it can achieve up to 120 mpg – roughly 4.5 times its traditional gas internal combustion engine-powered counterpart. 

Ford Airstream Concept.

HySeries Drive powertrain (photo for the Airstream concept): a battery-powered, plug-in hybrid with a hydrogen fuel cell that operates as an on-board charger.

HySeries Drive powertrain under the Airstream concept: a battery-powered, plug-in hybrid with a hydrogen fuel cell that operates as an on-board charger.

A fully charged Ford Escape PHEV operates in two modes, electric drive and blended electric/engine drive.

Electric drive: at urban speeds, the high capacity plug-in hybrid battery allows for extended battery-only driving distance.

Blended drive: At higher power demands and vehicle speeds, the vehicle automatically switches to blended electric/engine mode, providing propulsion using both the engine and the high-capacity battery, further reducing fuel consumption.

Another highly practical element comes from the fact that the vehicle is not range-limited by the amount of charge available in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery, because once the battery charge is depleted, the vehicle continues to operate as a standard Ford Escape Hybrid. The transition is automatic and unnoticeable to the driver.

The testing will indicate the durability, reliability and safety of new battery technology. The cost of those advanced batteries today means the technology is currently not economically feasible for widespread consumer applications.

Ford Edge HySeries fueling port: the compressed Hydrogen fuel is delivered at 350 bar in under 5 minutes.

Ford Edge HySeries: the compressed Hydrogen fuel is delivered via the fueling port at 350 bar in under 5 minutes.

"We bring our expertise in energy production, delivery and management, and combine it with Ford’s expertise in hybrid technology" said Lynda Ziegler, Southern California Edison’s senior vice president, Customer Service. "Together, we are seeking solutions to address the needs of our shared customers... This is not about simply connecting the car to the grid. It’s about integrating vehicles and energy storage technologies into the energy system of the future."

Southern California Edison - an Edison International company - is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.

Ford HySERIES Edge Concept on the streets of Manhattan during the New York International Auto Show in April 2007.

Ford Edge with HySerie Drive on the streets of Manhattan during the New York International Auto Show last April.

Edge HySeries Drive - Testing is also underway for the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive technology, the world’s first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric plug-in. The HySeries combines an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium ion batteries to deliver more than 41 U.S. mpg (equivalent of 49.2 UK mpg, 5.74 litres / 100 km, 17.43 km / litre), while some drivers will see fuel economy well over 80 mpg (equivalent of 96 UK mpg, 2.94 litres / 100 km, 34.01 km / litre).

The HySeries Drive name refers to the powertrain’s structure: a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered series hybrid drivetrain. According to Ford, this approach reduces the size, weight, cost and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50 percent. It also promises to more than double the lifetime of the fuel cell stack.

The vehicle is built on a flexible powertrain architecture that will enable Ford to use new fuel and propulsion technologies as they develop, without redesigning the vehicle. 

Ford Edge with HySerie Drive: 2 LCD screens for an instant view of energy usage by the lithium-ion battery and fuel cell

Ford Edge with HySerie Drive: console with 2 LCD screens give an instant view of energy usage by the lithium-ion battery and fuel cell.

Ford Edge with HySerie Drive: 2 LCD screens give an instant view of energy usage by the lithium-ion battery and fuel cell.

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack at all times. The vehicle drives the first 25 miles (40 km) each day on stored electricity alone, after which the fuel cell begins operating to keep the battery pack charged. This provides another 200 miles (322 km) of range for a total of 225 miles (362 km).

However, Ford indicates that individual experiences will vary widely and can stretch out the time between fill-ups to more than 400 miles (643 km). Drivers with modest daily needs would need to refuel only rarely, and drivers who travel less than 50 miles (80 km) each day will see fuel economy well over 80 mpg (96 UK mpg, 2.94 litres / 100 km, 34.01 km / litre), while those with long daily commutes will see somewhat lower numbers as 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 (137 km/h). 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 is drivable until it runs out of fuel – in this case via a 350-bar hydrogen tank that supplies 4.5 kg of useable hydrogen.

Mujeeb Ijaz, manager of fuel cell vehicle engineering indicates that while "much progress has been made to date... many significant technical hurdles need to be overcome before a vehicle such as the Edge with HySeries Drive can become a reality. These types of vehicles remain prohibitively expensive. The single biggest hurdle to plug-ins remains the cost of lithium-ion batteries. In addition, much work also needs to be done to make fuel cells more durable and to create a hydrogen infrastructure."

PHEVs, such as the Escape Plug-in Hybrid and the Edge with HySeries Drive, represent just one element of Ford’s broader range of actions for the near, mid and long term. Those actions include the application of turbocharged, gasoline direct injection technology (see the all-new 2009 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan), new fuel-efficient transmissions, aerodynamic improvements, increased production of flexible fuel vehicles, additional hybrid vehicles, weight reductions, and the development of plug-in technology and hydrogen fuel cells.

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