Confirming its long term commitment in hybrid vehicles
development, Ford Motor Company announced last week a new collaboration
with Canadian Hydro-Québec electric company in a North America wide
demonstration and research program on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
(PHEVs. See also Ford's already known testing program for the Escape
Plug-In Hybrid and Edge HySeries Drive).
Compared to the current generation of hybrid vehicles,
one of the main advantages of a plug-in hybrid is the availability of an
electric plug allowing to recharge the car's lithium-ion batteries from a
common household current, during the night, or even during the day at the
office. This would enable the PHEV to be used, either an electric
vehicle for short distances, or as a hybrid one.
For example, the Ford
Escape Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicle, a research vehicle using high
voltage, lithium-ion batteries, can be fully charged from a common
household current (120 volts) within six to eight hours.
Ford Escape PHEV:
lithium-ion batteries, can be fully charged from a common
household current (120 volts) within 6-8 hours.
Ford says that in its first 30 miles (48 km) following
a full charge, the Escape
PHEV can achieve up to 120 mpg (144 Imp. mpg, 1.96 litre /100 km, 51
km per litre) when driven on surface streets. The vehicle is not range
limited by the amount of charge available in the high-voltage lithium-ion
battery, because once the charge in the battery has been depleted, the
vehicle continues to operate as a standard Ford Escape Hybrid. The
transition is automatic and unnoticeable to the driver.
In collaboration with the Electric Power Research
Institute (EPRI), Ford is undertaking a three-year test program on the
Ford Escape PHEV designed to develop and evaluate technical approaches for
integrating PHEVs into the electric grid.
EPRI, which conducts research and development relating
to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the
public, has identified nine utilities across North America to test drive
the vehicles and collect data on battery technology, vehicle systems,
customer use and grid infrastructure. As an independent, non-profit
organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as
experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in
electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the
environment. Its members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity
generated and delivered in the United States, and international
participation extends to 40 countries.
In total, Ford provides 21 vehicles for the real-world
trials. Hydro-Québec is the only Canadian company participating in the
North American Ford PHEV Program. Owned by the Québec government,
Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity, using
mainly renewable generating options, in particular hydropower, and
supports the development of wind energy through purchases from independent
Ford says that vehicle electrification does not only
play its role in the fight against climate change, as it could also help
consumers to refuel at plug rather than at the pump. According to Ford
figures, refuelling costs for an average vehicle driven 18,000 km (11,185
miles) per year would be $244 (electric plug) as opposed to $1,383 (at a
petrol station), which is 5.6 times cheaper.
The electrification of vehicles has sparked significant
interest in the U.S.A and Canada. PHEVs are one element of Ford’s
blueprint for sustainability that includes actions ranging from
refinements in gasoline fuelled engines and transmissions, to the
development of battery electric vehicles.
“We believe collaboration with utility companies to
explore new business models, standards, infrastructure, and communication
between vehicle and electric grids will be a key component to advancing
the commercialization of electric vehicles in the coming years,” said
Nancy Gioia, director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid
Vehicle programs at Ford Motor Company.
See also: Ford
Escape Hybrid with L.A. lifeguards, 9,000 rescues with 25% fuel saving.