At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Ford Motor Company is unveiling an all new fuel-cell powered Explorer with a range of 350 miles.
GM’s recently announced Equinox Fuel Cell—another fuel-cell vehicle based on an SUV format—has a range of 200 miles. (Earlier post.) Honda’s new FCX fuel-cell vehicle under development and targeted for 2008 entry into the market promises a range of 350 miles. (Earlier post.)
The fuel-cell Explorer prototype is part of a series of vehicles partially funded by a contract with the United States Department of Energy, and the first of the series to be unveiled to the public.
The fuel-cell Explorer comes equipped with advanced electric all-wheel-drive like the production model from which it is based. A center-mounted hydrogen storage tank occupies the space typically used for the 6-speed automatic transmission found in production Explorer models.
Locating the hydrogen storage tank in this area allowed engineers to design a larger tank to deliver the 350-mile driving range—the tank holds 10 kg of hydrogen at 700 bar. This design also maintains Explorer’s six-passenger seating arrangement and the cargo capacity found in the production Ford Explorer.
The fuel-cell Explorer uses a 60 kW fuel cell stack and a 50 kW battery to power dual 65 kW electric motors.
In less than one year, the fuel-cell Explorer has accumulated more than 17,000 miles, including a world-record drive of 1,556 miles in a single 24-hour period, the most of any fuel-cell vehicle to date. The record was set by Ford engineers at the new Dearborn Development Center test facility in Dearborn, Mich.
Ford will unveil the next vehicle in this series of demonstration vehicles in January at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.