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Ford CEO Outlines Blueprint for More Fuel-Efficient Vehicles and Reduced Emissions

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally outlined the company’s plan for a range of near-, medium- and long-term global environmental technologies to provide customers more fuel-efficient vehicles that emit fewer greenhouse gases “without compromising their expectations of Ford vehicles’ safety, quality, interior room or performance.”

Key to the Ford plan in the near-term is a new generation of smaller displacement turbocharged gasoline direct injection engines that will be offered in high volumes on Ford vehicles. The new family of engines will provide customers with a fuel savings of between 10-20% without compromising performance.

During the next five years, Ford expects to introduce a range of gasoline turbo-charged direct injection engines in 4-cylinder and V-6 configuration in a significant number of vehicles globally. Ford will provide more details about its plans for this technology in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The first application of the new engine will be in the new Lincoln MKS less than a year after launch.

In addition to this family of new gasoline turbo-charged direct injection engines—and as part of the company’s near- and mid-term plans—Ford will introduce a portfolio of technologies to achieve even greater fuel savings and emissions reductions. They include:

  • A new generation of fuel-saving twin-clutch transmissions, which deliver the fuel economy of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. These new transmissions include greater use of 6-speeds to replace less-efficient 4- and 5-speed gearboxes.

  • The use of advanced electric power assisted steering systems in between 80-90% of Ford vehicles.

  • Aerodynamic improvements through better design and wind tunnel optimization.

  • Weight reductions through platform efficiencies and greater use of aluminum and high-strength steel.

The fuel savings will grow during the mid-term—between 2012 and 2020—as weight reductions become a critical focus of Ford’s plan. Targeted vehicle weight reductions will range from 250 to 750 pounds, depending on the segment—without compromising safety.

Biofuels. Mulally re-iterated Ford’s commitment to flexible fuel vehicles (FFV). In the US, Ford has pledged to make half of its production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012, provided the necessary fuel and infrastructure are in place.

In Europe, Ford is a FFV market leader and FFV market pioneer. Focus and C-MAX Flexifuel are currently available. From early 2008, the new Mondeo, the S-MAX and the Galaxy will be available as Flexifuel versions. Through this, Ford will offer one of the broadest FFV portfolios in Europe. Ford currently sells Flexifuel models in 16 markets and plans to have an FFV derivative available for every car in its line-up, introduced in a cadence determined by new model launch timing.

In Brazil, FFVs account for 72% of Ford’s volume. The success with FFVs was achieved through a central energy policy and collaboration among agriculture, fuel providers, automakers and the government.

In Asia Pacific, Ford is leading in the introduction of flexible fuel vehicles, particularly in early-adopting markets, such as Thailand and the Philippines.

Advanced Diesels: Ford’s sustainability plan calls for adding more diesel engines to more products in more markets. By the end of the decade, Ford’s large sport utility vehicles and best-selling F-150 will be available with a new mid-displacement advanced diesel engine.

In Europe, Ford soon will begin rolling out its ECOnetic range of ultra-low CO2 models that use affordable, conventional technology to deliver improved CO2 performance and fuel economy. The first vehicle will be the Ford Focus ECOnetic, followed by ECOnetic versions of the Mondeo and Ford’s all new B-car in 2008.

Hybrid-Electric Systems. Ford is now in its fourth year producing the Escape Hybrid. The company has three hybrids on the road: the Escape, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid. Two new hybrid sedans—the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid —will go into production later in 2008.

Moving forward, Ford plans to deploy different levels of hybridization with either diesel or gasoline engines, depending on the market and vehicle type. In Europe, for example, Ford established in 2006 the European Hybrid Technologies Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, which will have overall responsibility for the application of hybrid systems into Volvo cars globally and ensure that Ford of Europe is able to apply core hybrid systems into its products.

Plug-in Hybrids. Ford’s sustainability plan also calls for aggressive development of breakthrough technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles to ramp up to greater volumes “once the technology challenges can be overcome.

In December, Ford will deliver the first Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-in to its partner Southern California Edison as part of a partnership to explore the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and the business models that might make them viable. The partnership is designed to advance plug-in technology as well as an energy vision that connects transportation to the energy grid.

Hydrogen. Ford is moving ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously, including hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Ford’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, released in 2001, was used to develop its first hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

Ford currently has a fleet of 30 hydrogen-powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to conduct real-world testing of fuel cell technology. The fleet has accumulated more than 600,000 miles (965,000 kilometers) since its inception. In addition, Ford has 24 hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine shuttle buses in cities across the United States and Canada.

While we are implementing our near-, mid- and long-term plans, we are continuing to achieve efficiencies throughout the vehicle in areas that can quickly lead to fuel economy improvements today. We continue to make improvements in what we call the ‘1 percent’ areas—items such as reducing wind drag, eliminating engine-driven power steering pumps and switching to low-friction engine oil. Collectively, these small improvements deliver significant fuel economy gains for our customers.

— Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development


Bud Johns

Hope Ford survives to see all this thru. One of the most overlooked things, in my opinion, is weight reduction, as it dramatically helps any vehicle. Good to see Ford adressing this.........


Agreed. While it is still not the heaviest vehicle of its type, one of the reasons I have not upgraded my last-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee is that the weight for the same model has increased 15%! From 4000 to 4600lbs!

Many of the manufacturers are trying to mask this with better gearing so that they still hit similar EPA estimates, but it doesn't translate in the real world. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is going to take more energy to move 15% more mass at the same rate!

Rafael Seidl

Ford's been promising great things on the technology side for years. They haven't really delivered yet because they have not yet decided to leverage their global organization in the same way GM has. Case in point: the Ford technology roadmap sketched explicitly omits diesel engines for anything other than trucks and SUVs in the US. That is a mistake IMHO, large sedans, MMPVs and minivans would all benefit greatly as well.

Plus, all the fancy technology in the world isn't going to make any difference to the bottom line unless customers like the styling of the vehicles it's put into. That means ditching lacklustre passenger car models like the US Focus in favor of their European cousins. Ford's SUVs and pick-ups are American specialties and should therefore retain distinctively American styling. The concept of a single global design language is misguided IMHO.

Most of all, the Ford brand needs to go somewhat upmarket to increase margin per vehicle, even if it comes at the expense of somewhat reduced unit volume. VW has demonstrated how this can be achieved, at least in their European operations.


Virtually every technological improvement in the last 30 years has been used to increase size and performance. What has changed that makes us think it will be any different in the future. Americans are still addicted to those two parameters and will stick to those until the last ice cap has melted.


Hi Raphael...You're right about advanced diesels being healthy for Ford & companies in general, even tho diesels aren't healthy for children & people who live, work & school near freeways(& diesels). Diesel health effects are probably wider spread too(but I don't know except for port facilities). With the new reports of diesel particles causing heart disease, & further reports saying New Delhi & Europe aren't lessening polluting emissions despite extensive emission regulations, we must be careful putting too many diesels eggs in our basket lest those eggs be stillborn.

Hi Tom...Boy, are you right! Your reasons are why I temper my enthusiasm for efficient EVs with breakthru advances in dramatic increases in electric battery storage densities. I know people's(America only leads the way) desire for more can sweep efficiency gains completely away.


The EU are bringing in laws to reduce co2/km

The price of oil is getting on for $100/barrel and likely to stay high due to Chindia.

Lots of technologies are available to increase economy, it is just a matter of deploying them.

These three factors suggest that we will see more economical vehicles in the short, medium and long term.

Harvey D


You hit the nail on the head.

How can we change this acquired addiction ....bigger is better?

Who needs a 6000+ lbs V-8 vehicle to take the kids to school. A minibus the same size could take 12+ kids to school. A Toyota Prius could do it just as well with 1/4 the fuel.


I like the focus on practical, short-term improvements that can improve mileage across the fleet.


There aren't any short term improvements. It takes close to 15 years to turn over the entire vehicle fleet.

People will get over this obsession with power, weight and speed when the cost of fuel forces us to do so. Recall that small fuel efficient cars quickly became the rage in the early 1980's.

I have no confidence that Ford (or GM for that matter) has a plan of any sort that will be of any use in the long run. They are still fixated on oversized vehicles that are overpowered. Whatever we use for transportation in the future is likely to come from other companies.


Bigger is better is a function of several issues. First is the disingenuous idea that it is "safer." Forty years ago US automakers sold the public the idea of a station wagon as the ideal family vehicle. They have increased the size of that concept continually since then.

Until the marketers are made to understand that selling large vehicles to ignorant buyers as a safety issue is costing their industry and the planet irreparable harm - we'll continue to get over-sized SUVs. Part of new corporate responsibility is to agree at the industry level to reduce the physical size of passenger vehicles. It is as much a part of becoming a better global citizen as CAFE and alt fuel adoption.

Done at the industry level - vehicle size reduction will return us to reasonable passenger vehicles with far greater economies of manufacture and operation.

Stan Peterson

The original People's car and the most extensively built vehicle in world history, had an interior capacity that a Mini outsizes. It had a 42 HP engine and achieved tremendous mileage... all of 16 miles per gallon.

You have to search among the biggest fuelish SUVs to find something that gets such poor mileage offered by any automaker today.

Progress has come and continues to do so at a compound rate of over 5.1 % per annum for decades, as documented here on GCC, but some people are myopic about it. And a quantum leap in efficiency is just starting to arrive.

In 6-10 years when many practical family vehicles get 60 mpg equivalent or more, some of you will still be trying to get people to drive pregnant roller skates that get 120 mpg, "for their own good".

Even as oil demand then drops precipitously and oil prices collapse along with them, amid the shrieking of Oil sheiks and Marxist oil tyrants, as both quake about their survival.

And once again you will be pissing into the wind.

Bob Lutz has made a cogent observation about fuel mileage improvement. When the automakers achieve it, at a level comfortable to consumers, then consumers decide they can now afford to drive a more comfortable up sized vehicle. All despite the hectoring and hair-shirt-ism so prevalent in certain quarters well represented here.

Stan Peterson's Brainfarts

Marxist hair-shirt-ist wind-pissers! Wah! wAH!! WaH!


Oh, its you, Stan....You compare 2008 gas guzzler gas MPG to the worst ever WWII VW bug built during 20cent per gallon gas. My Subaru used to pass up VWs, both speedwise & at the gas pump. & my Subaru wasn't as good as the Nissan B210 which was like a little station wagon getting 35 MPG. So did other small cars. After them, small cars got even more roomy & MPG. My Plymouth Champ & Ford Festiva averaged 42 & 45 MPG in the 80's. Still got my Festiva, altho my Champ which banged up many many logging roads I finally lost track of after 24years. Ya got anymore comparisons.


Ford should be looking at Variable cylinder management as it makes more sense in bigger trucks with significant variation of payloads.


Stan, if you're referring to the VW beetle, you're just plain wrong. In its 36 and 40hp 1200 cc versions (forties through 1965), it delivered an honest and consistent 32mpg average. This was validated by millions of owners (including myself). The engine was so throttled, that even at the flat-out max speed of 72mph, it would yield 30+ mpg.

Don't forget the beetle was designed in the mid thirties; for its time, and right through the sixties, it was always a relatively economical vehicle.

Roger Pham

Stan posted: "Even as oil demand then drops precipitously and oil prices collapse along with them, amid the shrieking of Oil sheiks and Marxist oil tyrants, as both quake about their survival."

Your optimism is admirable. You would do very well as a motivational therapist, coach and speaker, may be for the likes of the "700 club". But, on the same vein, I am more optimistic than you about the "survival" of "oil tyrants." Since Big Oil has been known to be able to control governments, it can get wiser and environmentally sound by making the governments world-wide to raise taxes on oil and carbon, thus phasing out this antiquated source of energy (they don't call it "fossil fuel" for nuthin') while secretly invest in renewable energy for Hydrogen and other synthetic fuel production and start to dominate the world FOREVER on the sustainable, renewable, and non-polluting energy sources. Have you heard of the oil spill recently? That is bad for business. Exxon paid out billions for the Exxon-Valdez oil spill clean up. With H2 and methane fuels, there will be no more oil spills.

As more people will own cars, cars should get smaller so that there will be enough raw materials to make cars for more people. The finite world resources is like a pie that will have to be sliced into more pieces. There is a lot of pollution associated with car manufacturing, maintenance, and disposition. Thus, a sustainable future will require that cars will be made as small and as light as possible...and most people should not drive a car at all. They should walk to buses stop or station, or ride a bike. This will solve the obesity and diabetes epidemic that will cost trillions of dollars in health care in the time to come. Motor vehicle accident rates will greatly declines. Even though only 40,000 or people died in car accidents yearly, there are hundreds of thousands of people got spinal injury or other serious injuries yearly from car accidents that will cause great deal of disability, productivity loss and pain for the rest of their lives. The bigger the car, the higher potential of damage it can inflict upon smaller cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.


Roger: agreed that walking, bike riding and public transit will alleviate some of the energy burden - but we will see a rise in pedestrian accidents. In the US alone pedestrian accidents reach 70,000 annually. Factor in the attendant medical costs. Those numbers will increase as people abandon cars for walking and bikes. As the relative number of cars is unlikely to decline due to population - we will have to face rising injury/medical/recovery as part of the new "paradigm."

Roger Pham

"It takes two to tango."
For any number of persons who walk to take public transit or ride a bike, there will be almost the same number of reduction of cars in the street. The street will be much less crowded, and the rates of car collision accidents will be much reduced.
Fewer cars in the streets will mean fewer pedestrians will be hit by cars, and more room for cars to maneuver to avoid hitting pedestrians.
It is the law of probability, amigo.

fred schumacher

I was hoping he would say 2, 3 and 4 cylinder engines, rather than 4 and V-6. Weight reduction is job one, and savings of 250 to 750 pounds is not enough. It still means producing grossly oversize vehicles, very lightly loaded for daily operation. The auto industry keeps on giving us the wrong tool for the task at hand. They're caught in a complexity paradigm, rather than using simplicity and size as problem solving tools.

The latest Ford scion recently criticized the biofuels industry for not moving fast enough to meet the needs of 2 billion cars in the world by 2050. This statement tells us a lot about the industry. It means they expect per unit distance fuel usage rates to be in the ballpark of today's rates; they expect a 135% increase in vehicles while population goes up 50%; all this while oil peaks and food supplies have become inelastic. They see the last 100 years as a norm, while in fact it is an aberration.

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