Ford Motor Company announced that it has begun developing the third-generation of its hybrid transaxle in-house. The new transaxle will handle both 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines.
The transaxle is a central device in hybrid vehicles, responsible for transferring the power from the battery and/or the gasoline engine to the wheels. The hybrid transaxle also allows for the recovery of kinetic energy through the hybrid’s regenerative braking system.
The Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid are equipped with Ford’s first-generation transaxle, which Ford developed jointly with Aisin AW. Aisin also supplied Toyota with the transaxle for the first-generation Prius. Toyota is currently on its third-generation, developed in-house.
In 2008, the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid will come equipped with Ford’s second-generation transaxle.
To grow our hybrid business, we have to be able to provide ourselves more flexibility. We have a good partner now on our current transaxle, but we need to control our own destiny. This is an investment in our future.
As hybrids grow to mainstream volumes in the United States, we need to develop a supply base here, too. We are taking the necessary steps to develop the technology, the intellectual expertise and the great products to make hybrid vehicles as commonplace as any other powertrain.—Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Ford vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering
Ford is striving to improve the fuel efficiency and reducing the cost of the hybrid system with each new generation of transaxles.
The company has committed to increase hybrid production to approximately 250,000 unit annually by 2010. It currently produces approximately 24,000 hybrids annually.
Ford also announced that the Ford Escape Hybrid would debut this week as one of the first hybrid taxis carrying passengers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Ford, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission and the Coalition for Smart Transportation will mark the milestone on Thursday.