Ford Introduces Reflex Diesel Hybrid with Solar Assist
08 January 2006
|The Reflex concept is based on a new full-hybrid drivetrain.|
As promised, Ford introduced its new Reflex diesel hybrid at the Detroit auto show. Proclaiming that “small is big,” Ford executives used the introduction as an example of their commitment to “seize the small car market” in the US.
The Reflex is a full hybrid that uses a 1.4-liter Duratorq as its engine, uses a rear-wheel motor in addition to the front-wheel hybrid drive, features a lithium-ion battery pack, and uses small arrays of solar cells to support non-traction electrical systems and provide a slight recharge. The goal with the latter feature is to conserve as much of the Li-ion battery system’s storage as possible to apply to torque.
Ford isn’t ready yet to reveal specifics about the hybrid powertrain or battery system, save to say that it reflects the thinking of their next-generation hybrid systems.
The Reflex offers up to 65 mpg US in urban driving—a result helped by what Ford executives say is a strong all-electric (e-drive) drive capability.
Ford is gathering customer reaction to the concept, and may productize it within a few years.
Only one problem:
"Ford is gathering customer reaction to the concept"
Uh, why isnt this in showrooms already, like the Prius?
Also would be interesting to know the size and cost of the lithium battery.
Posted by: Patrick | 08 January 2006 at 12:39 PM
Looks like a great car if they build it. Would be even better if they further engineer it to be a plug-in hybrid. Hopefully new lithium technology will help reduce the battery costs making it more feasible to build.
Posted by: skimonster | 08 January 2006 at 01:50 PM
If you're putting a solar panel on the roof to trickle charge the batteries, why not just put in an electrical plug while you're at it?
Otherwise, I think this thing is awesome. THe big problem I think Ford will have is trying to explain all these different widgets: diesel, hybrid, solar, pivot-wing doors and get the very conseravative, mainstream consumer to accept them.
Myself... I would most definitely look at this as a car choice (were I not already in a Prius).
Posted by: Lance Funston | 08 January 2006 at 02:22 PM
Uh, yeah...as noted PEOPLE WANT THIS. Provided it's priced right (say around $20k). Does seem that a plug-in assist would be most cost effective and useful [heck my 78 mercedes can plug-in :) ]
Posted by: Garth | 08 January 2006 at 02:31 PM
That is almost exactly the kind of car I was looking for.
Two years ago.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 08 January 2006 at 05:53 PM
I second the replacement of the solar cells with plug-in capacity. Solargenix's solar cells for hybrids are not very cost effective at all and I'd much rather be able to plug this thing in at home.
"Ford is gathering customer reaction to the concept, and may productize it within a few years."
-Where are they gathering reaction? I'll let them know I'd buy one of these (I probably couldn't actually ever afford it but if I had the kind of money to buy a muscle car, I'd certainly love to buy this one!) and I'm sure many more would.
Posted by: Jesse Jenkins | 08 January 2006 at 06:38 PM
Also, I've got more pictures of the interior and exterior of the Reflex here for you to drool over...
Posted by: Jesse Jenkins | 08 January 2006 at 06:39 PM
I don't know if they give the specs on the solar panels, but I would guess about 200W of power. It would be optomistic to expect 2kwh of electricity on a daily basis. This doesn't amount to much and I don't like parking my car in the sun. Maybe the additional electricty would make up for the extra fuel burned to cool the car back down from sitting in the sun.
I am not trying to be negative, I just think the additional expense of solar panels could be better spent. I love the car otherwise. I too would love to have a plug-in option. I don't understand why car manufacturers are afraid to sell a car with a cord. It may look inconvenient, but I think the person going to a hybrid is willing to be inconvenienced to get better mileage, whatever his reasons.
Posted by: JRod | 08 January 2006 at 07:14 PM
The solar panels as an add on increase weight and cost but if they are designed in from the start I like the idea. As a factory design they can make it almost zero add on weight. Probobly would cost more then $10 a watt.
Posted by: hampden wireless | 08 January 2006 at 07:23 PM
They were tight-lipped about the specs for *any* of the hybrid drive elements: battery, motor, PV, etc.
Posted by: Mike | 08 January 2006 at 07:56 PM
No spec, no details, predicted MPG, and a "Functional Bumber Beam made of hand-polished, high-strength aluminium".
65 MPG for a diesel hybrid is not terribly impressive, they should go for 100+ MPG as VW's Diesel EcoRacer Concept can do 69 MPG without hybrid.
So people, which one you think will be cheaper and more durable?
Supercharger + Turbocharger
Lithium Ion + Electric Motor + Solar Panel
Ermm, how to add link like Jesse Jenkins did?
Posted by: rexis | 08 January 2006 at 08:24 PM
True, 65mpg for diesel hybrid is not really all that great. If they dropped a diesel into the Prius it would get about 70mpg city.
Posted by: hampden wireless | 08 January 2006 at 09:06 PM
For those who want to encourage Ford to produce this vehicle you can visit:
Posted by: skimonster | 09 January 2006 at 04:51 AM
65mpg city isn't the best for a diesel... but there als aren't any performance stats listed.
If it can boast a 0-60 of 6 or 7 seconds then the 65mpg is impressive.
I like the solar, works well in the Prius for accesory power. Plug-in as well would be nice, but don't loose the solar.
As for a $20k price tag, your dreaming. The US government isn't subsidizing this thing like the Japanese gov. is (or at least was) the Insight and Prius. Without the subsidy they'd have each been over $30k easily when they debuted.
I doubt this will ever make it to production, the only cool concept car to ever make it to production was the Viper, everything else gets trashed by the accounting departments. Even the Insight is a far cry from it's sporty JV-X concept cousin. (Though I still love it).
Ford will always be behind the ball, don't expect them to bring something innovative and fun to the market. They're still stuck on remaking 30 year old cars (Ford GT (GT40 remake), and the retro Mustang).
That being said... I still want one of these :)
Posted by: Ash | 09 January 2006 at 08:43 AM
A two-seater, that's useful. For 5% of the population.
Give me something I can put 2 adults and two kids in.
These things are going nowhere until they become practical, not just efficient. Just another niche market for geeks/treehuggers. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to save the world and be the first on the block with a hybrid, but I can't afford to buy something that I have to dedicate to commuting, and another for other tasks.
The story on CNN/MONEY showed a picture of Ford's Edge "crossover" vehicle, I guess that set me up for disappointment.
Posted by: Brianm0122 | 09 January 2006 at 10:45 AM
Why do car companies obsess so much about the small number of people who still think you need to plug in a hybrid just to drive it? When gas hits $4/gal maybe they'll spend the 2 minutes required to ask the obvious question: "Do I HAVE TO plug it in to drive it?"
Well... Make it an OPTION! Like a 9 speaker stereo, or heated cup-holders Call it the "powerbooster plug-in option". The buyers with half a brain will get it and the rest will decide that they don't need it to drive the car because... its an OPTION... and they can save themselves a few hundred to leave it off (let them have the dealer install it later when gas goes through the roof).
The other thing that scares off car companies is this "30 miles on a charge without the engine" number that keeps circulating in PHEV lover circles... Which of course means another $8000 in expensive batteries.
Well who says you have to go 30 miles? I'd be happy to get my Prius 3 miles down to the damn freeway entrance without the engine running and running just to warm up the catalytic converter. Just swap my NiMH for LiONs ... maybe add a little booster pack where the spare tire is, and a plug. Price it at $2000... Sold!.. I'll just have to live without the heated leather seats. But now maybe I could get up to 60 or 70 (real) mpg.
Posted by: Lance Funston | 10 January 2006 at 01:25 AM
In the UK we have been living your worst nightmare for years with gasoline at the equivalent of $6.22 and diesel $7.00 per USA gallon (a British gallon is 20% bigger). High mileage drivers tend to buy diesels because the higher purchase expense is defrayed by the better fuel consumption achieved on Motorway driving and a higher resale price is generally achievable. If fuel costs are a prime consideration but the budget is limited then there are many four door gasoline cars available that will easily achieve 50 mpg (40 mpg US gal) in general use, though constant city use will reduce this by up to half. I use a four seat car with a 1400cc gasoline engine that averages 44mpg (36 us)in general use and is happy to cruise on the Motorway at 80mph if necessary. By being less heavy footed and not exceeding 60mph I can easily achieve 48mpg (39us). The car is ten years old and is in no way unusual. We have had high gas prices for decades (due to eye watering tax) and most people are not interested in a family car unless it will at least do 40mpg (32us). If you want the USA to go green and stop importing expensive foriegn oil, mark the gas up to $6.25, and after the riots see how people adapt!
Posted by: D Blake | 10 January 2006 at 12:35 PM
You Brits are not living my worst nightmare! On the contrary, I wish we had high fuel taxes here to get people out of obese cars. Unfortunately it's the only way to limit the waste. Don't let our Prezzuhdent lead you to believe we're all profligate fools.
AFAICT high fuel prices have served as a positive economic incentive for innovation. Would Toyota and VW have developed the state of the art in hybrid and diesel engines if fuel was cheaper than milk as it is here? I doubt it. Maybe GM credit wouldn't have a junk bond rating if gasoline was painfully expensive here. Maybe I wouldn't be living in sociopathic suburban sprawl. Cheap fossil fuels - another distortion coughed up by `modern' economics. Sheesh!
Posted by: marshall | 10 January 2006 at 10:51 PM
> [reflex - 65 mpg]
Big jaded yawn from this reader. They should be able to achieve that with a 1.4L diesel MINUS the hybrid system. VW does in several of it's not-for-the-US models. Like rexis says triple digit fuel economy is what they should be shooting for. Anything short of that mark in such an otherwise radical design is missing the point.
Posted by: marshall | 10 January 2006 at 10:58 PM
Triple digits is challenging to get in any vehicle. Folks in the Challenge Bibendum dream about getting modified Insights to do that. You're talking about a PHEV that is basically an electric car with back-up gas or diesel engine.
Posted by: Lance Funston | 11 January 2006 at 05:03 PM
Why bother with concept cars like this, when, like the Subaru baja--a great car in concept but nearly an Edsel in reality--the eventual mass produced vehicle will bear scant resemblance to the concept. I can't imagine Ford keeping true to the cars true romance--the sporty silhouette, gull wings, 20" wheels with flared fenders, solar panels, 65+mpg, etc.
And I also agree that the absence of plug-in capability will deter numerous potential buyers (despite pessimists to the contrary) because a truly green vehicle should be able to function on e power alone for short errands--period.
Posted by: Larry Wolf | 12 January 2006 at 10:07 AM
Next to Honda's FCX, the Reflex is the best car technology out there today. With some biodeasle in the tank and a plug-in option, the Reflex would be the ideal car for today, until solar or wind-generated hydrogen fuel cells become affordable and mass-produced. I would buy a Reflex today if they were parked at our local Ford dealership. Great job Ford!
Posted by: Darrin Russell | 13 January 2006 at 04:15 PM
"65 MPG for a diesel hybrid is not terribly impressive, they should go for 100+ MPG as VW's Diesel EcoRacer Concept can do 69 MPG without hybrid."
The VW EcoRacer is a tiny ultra-light sports car, not an American musclecar like the Reflex. I bet the weight of the EcoRacer is almost half that of the Reflex so its no wonder it gets such great mileage.
They haven't released specs on the Reflex, but I imagine similar performance to a Mustang (maybe even to a GT Mustang) but with almost three-times the gas mileage (Mustangs get mid 20s, reflex gets 65+). That isnt too shabby in my opinion.
The point of the Reflex is not simply to optimize mileage, but to show that high milieage and excellent performance can come in the same package, one with the popular stylings of a musclecar rather than the tear-drop shapes of a typical hybrid. The EcoRacer has similar intents but aimed at those interested in a sports car.
Both do an excellent job of pushing the limits on the 'fuel economy means poor performance' myth/misconception/popular opinion so props to Ford and VW for that.
Posted by: Jesse Jenkins | 17 January 2006 at 01:18 PM
The reflex is a good start, but I doubt it would succeed as a mass produced vehicle. It epitomizes style over substance. The wing doors would be a nightmare in any parking lot! Two seats? and how practical is this car for a family? So essentially ford would need to market this car to young single people half of whom do not yet have the means to buy a new car let alone a new car priced at whatever pricetag ford would have to stick on this thing. Its obviously just marketing hype aimed at somehow convincing the american consumer that ford actually is trying to innovate something. Same as their commercials. innovation is the message, but when you look at the showroom floor you see cars from the 60's ...
I do, however, like the diesel hybrid concept. Diesel hybrids should be more fuel efficient than their standar gas hybrid competition, so american car makers would finally have innovated something again. (I doubt that it will actually be american manufacturers that do though. My money is on VW if it has anything to do with diesel.)
If ford was paying attention they would put this diesel hybrid concept into a mid sized suv frame like the murano. The mileage should be excellent, and there would be plenty of space for a family of four without being obsenely large. In addition a mid sized SUV should alleviate most of the safety concerns (either perceived or real) that most family conscious consumers have.
The landscape of gargantuan SUV's isnt gonna change out on US highways unless and until gas hits 6-7 bucks a gallon. As long as people are driving tanks out there, other drivers will feel obliged to drive equally large cars simply out of fear of colission. You wont see nifty little eurocars break into this market under those conditions, and certainly not an impractical two seater full of emtpy promises.
Posted by: Tim | 24 January 2006 at 09:58 AM
I think ford is on track to entice the consumer. The reflex adds excitement to driving a small car with a sporty look. For this reason, I would consider buying one.
For the family, the back seat needs to be more roomy to acconidate a childs seat. The childs seat takes more room than an adult, which forces a family buy a SUV to get the room to place and fassen the child in to the seat. For this reason, the small car does not fit the family as did thirty years ago.
Posted by: Bob | 28 January 2006 at 05:09 PM