January 29, 2006

Ford Unveils Flex-Fuel Hybrid Research Vehicle

The push is on for more gas efficient, flexible-fuel vehicles. Below is a recent article from Green Car Congress about a car that sports not only hybrid level gas efficiency but also the multiplying benefits of running on E85 ethanol blended gasoline (85% ethanol multiplies by 5 the mpg of gasoline alone). Modifying existing car models (standard or hybrid) is not difficult or expensive so expect more manufacturers to follow suit.

Question: Where will the ethanol come from? Answer: I believe the it will come from locally produced biomass conversion of waste into cellulosic ethanol.

E85 availability will be a limiting sales factor (except in the Midwest), but there is no reason for cars not to be flex-fuel equipped. An estimated 2 million non-hybrid automobiles are already running the roads of the U.S. without their owners necessariy knowing it.

There is speculation that the next generation of hybrid, flex-fuel cars will include electrical plug-in adaptability which will enable even more mileage per fossil fuel gallon and lower emissions.

Excerpts from the article appear below...

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.

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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