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