EcoBoost and Alternative Fuels, Too
As OEM Hires, Sets New Tech Center
Recognizing the fundamental efficiency of electric drive in the context of rising fuel costs, Ford is stepping up with a new technical center and significant hiring as it commits to vehicle electrification.
Ford will follow two late-March clean vehicle announcements by commencing consumer deliveries of the $39,000, 100-mile-range 100% battery Ford Focus Electric in April. Fleet customers including Google, DTE and Florida Power & Light already have test vehicles.Ford is also talking up its fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines and alternative fuels including B20 biodiesel, propane and compressed natural gas.
Ford cites more than 1,000 engineers working on hybrid and electrification programs, including the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, and C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid – a team said to have grown so fast that the firm is giving over its 285,000-square-foot Advanced Engineering Center in Dearborn, Mich., to electrified vehicle development.
It’s part of a plan to add more than 12,000 hourly and salaried jobs by 2015 in the U.S. Ford says it is tripling the U.S. production capacity of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles next year compared with 2011.
Ford showed off the Focus Electric in downtown San Francisco on March 28. The car has slightly better EPA range (a conservative 76 miles) than the Nissan Leaf (73) but charges in just half the time, says Stefan Pototschnik, battery EV program management supervisor. It car has Ford-designed battery packs assembled by Piston Automotive with lithium ion cells by LG Chem. Motors and controllers are from Magna International.
The fundamental efficiency of an electric vehicle means that operators can go as much as twenty times farther on a unit of fuel than a 30 mpg car, says Mike Tinskey, associate global director of EV infrastructure – assuming 100 miles of range, 5¢ per kilowatt-hour off-peak electricity, and $4 per gallon gasoline.
Customers can get Leviton chargers installed by the Geek Squad via Best Buy. For fleets, Ford is working with Coulomb on ChargePoint chargers with multiple-vehicle tracking and data-gathering capability, Tinskey says.
A 147-square-foot SunPower solar array designed to fit the Focus Electric is available for about $10,000 with existing federal incentive, or less were there are strong state incentives, Tinskey says. Net-metering agreements with utilities can allow for solar electricity to be sold to the local utility generated during the day, when rates are high – and the battery car charged from the grid when the rates are low.
The Focus Electric comes with tight firm seats with fabric made from polyester bottles, with premium audio and navigation and Bluetooth hands-free all standard, Pototschnik said.
Beyond the electric range, available alt fuel Ford vehicles include the entire F-Series Super Duty pickup, truck and chassis cab lineup on B20 biodiesel, CNG, or propane; E-Series vans, the Transit Connect and larger trucks, with an increasing selection of upfitters and various bi-fuel options.
Gasoline Fusion Start-Stop for $295
Ford’s gasoline-fueled Fusion sedan is the first non-hybrid to come with fuel-saving start-stop – a $295 option that with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, can “help drivers save as much as $1,100 over five years at today’s fuel prices versus midsize competitors.” The feature pares fuel use by as much as 10% in city driving, Ford says.
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