Ford Unveils Flex-Fuel Hybrid Research Vehicle
25 January 2006
|Escape Hybrid E85|
At the Washington Auto Show, Ford unveiled the Ford Escape Hybrid E85, a version of its Escape hybrid with a flexible-fuel engine capable of running either gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85).
The research vehicle is the first from a major car company to actually mate the two technologies (flexible-fuel engines and hybrid powertrains) together, although the potential of the combination is being increasingly mentioned by policymakers.
As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time.
This innovative research program could lead to breakthroughs to significantly reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil while also helping to address global climate change.—Anne Stevens, EVP, Ford Motor, and COO, The Americas
The Ford Escape Hybrid would produce about 25% less carbon dioxide if operated exclusively on E85 fuel instead of gasoline, according to the company.
Ford engineers working on the Escape Hybrid E85 research project are seeking not only to optimize the efficiency of the new powertrain, but also to resolve some emissions issues.
Although Ford engineers have achieved very low tailpipe emissions with FFVs, evaporative emissions remain a challenge. Some blends of ethanol are much more volatile than gasoline, so a more aggressive evaporative system is necessary.
A full hybrid application presents additional evaporative challenges, because the vehicle often operates on electric power alone without actuating the evaporative vacuum system that operates when the gasoline engine is in use.
Ford engineers are pursuing a number of strategies to address this challenge with the goal of achieving partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV) status. No FFV has yet been certified to this extremely clean standard, because of the evaporative requirement in the PZEV standard.
Ford researchers are applying some of the best expertise in the industry in hybrid power controls, flexible fuel operation and exhaust after-treatment. We’re working on the whole system, from the fuel tank through to the tailpipe, to optimize fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
We are seeking innovations to eliminate the release of fuel vapors from the vehicle. We’re working to further improve the efficiency of our systems that trap and consume fuel vapors while also working on ideas to prevent the generation of vapor in the first place.—Nancy Gioia, director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies & Hybrid Programs
Ford researchers also hope to apply a number of proprietary engine technologies being developed for future application that could further increase the fuel economy performance of a hybrid FFV.
Ford has two full hybrid electric vehicle models on the road today—the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid—with more models on the way and a targeted increase in hybrid production capacity to 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year globally by the end of the decade.
The company will also produce up to 250,000 flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) this year, including the Ford F-150 pickup truck, as well as the Ford Crown Victoria , Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car large sedans.
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