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Car and Driver on Hybrids

WorldChanging points to a couple of good articles on hybrids in Car and Driver. Check it out.

Car and Driver’s latest issue has two important articles about hybrids, and anyone with an interest in the real world performance of efficient vehicle technologies should check them out.

One thing, though: Ford is going to go non-linear over the reference to the Escape hybrid using “Toyota’s hybrid technology.” As both companies have stated in public, that’s not the case. That the perception still lingers is a indication of how poor a marketing job Ford has done—squandering the opportunity, as it were. (Earlier posts on that here and here.)

Comments

Jamais Cascio

How much Toyota technology is in the Escape hybrid, then? The "Ford and BP" posting suggests that Ford didn't simply take Toyota's hybrid and transplant it, but also says that the "second generation" Ford hybrid will be all native Ford tech. I definitely agree that Ford has squandered its opportunity, whatever the situation.

Mike

Well, according to Toyota now, none.

Although the Ford hybrid system is very similar to Toyota’s, Toyota is not directly supplying any components to Ford. Toyota and Ford have entered into a licensing agreement allowing Ford to use technology that had been patented by Toyota. (Toyota FAQ, 22 June 04)

Which, according to Ford, doesn't mean that they are using it. Ford's stance is that because some of the processes Ford developed were similar to Toyota's, Ford's company lawyers decided to pay Toyota a royalty to avoid a potential patent conflict.

Hearing and reading that its hybrid system was bought, in effect, from Toyota’s warehouse has stung Ford executives, said Jon Harmon, a spokesman, because it isn’t the case. Ford engineers developed hybrid technology without Toyota’s help, he said. Bloomberg, 22 April 04.

From a Ford FAQ on the Escape (it’s the second item, right after price—a little bit sensitive, Ford?)

Ford Motor Company designed, developed and validated its own hybrid powertrain system. In fact, Ford expects more than 100 patents to be issued covering this unique Ford hybrid system.

I can see why this is frustrating for Ford. But it just reinforces the whole issue of missed opportunity and outright marketing gaffes.

Jamais Cascio

Ah. Useful info, thanks. I'll update my post on WC.

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