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Old 04-16-2003, 20:45   #1 (permalink)
Mr. Embargo
 
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Ford's Hybrid Future Starts With Escape and Futura

Ford Motor Company is highlighting its commitment to hybrid vehicles at this week’s New York International Auto Show. The company is showing the Escape Hybrid SUV – which will begin low-volume fleet production at year’s end and retail production in the second half of 2004 – as well as announcing that the all-new 2006 Ford Futura mid-size car will be the company’s next hybrid vehicle.

As the first true no-compromise hybrid SUV, it combines the cargo capacity and go-anywhere capability of the Ford Escape sport-utility vehicle with the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a "full" hybrid system.

"The Escape Hybrid is just one way we’re delivering on our ‘better world’ promise," said Ford Division president Steve Lyons, referencing Ford Motor Company’s vision of great products, a stronger business and a better world. "And that’s just the beginning," Lyons said. "Adding a Ford Futura hybrid down the road will allow us to reach many more customers with this technology."

The Ford Escape Hybrid will be among the most advanced hybrid vehicles on the road when it debuts. The hybrid system has been uniquely engineered by Ford for the Escape.

Among the breakthrough technologies on the vehicle is an advanced thermal management system that will result in longer battery life.

Other benefits will include better acceleration performance when the vehicle is in pure electric mode and more efficient powertrain operation during highway driving.

"The Ford Escape Hybrid significantly improves the power density of the hybrid drive system to meet the power demands of an SUV in available space," according to Ford Hybrid Technology Chief Engineer Prabhakar Patil. "Applying hybrid technology to an SUV clearly presents a challenge. You simply have to get more out of the same type of powertrain package that to this point has only been asked to propel a smaller car."

As the first true "no-compromise" SUV, the Escape Hybrid will offer:

A "full" hybrid system, including a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery, allowing the vehicle to run on either the gasoline engine or battery power alone
35-40 miles per gallon fuel economy in the city driving cycle
Extraordinarily low emissions under the California SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) and PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) standards, with 97 percent fewer hydrocarbon emissions than permitted by the national Tier 1 standard and virtually zero evaporative emissions
Nearly a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in city driving
Significantly extended driving range between fuel stops
Acceleration performance comparable to the 201 horsepower Escape V-6 engine
Cargo capacity and off-road capability equal to the base Escape, with optional 4WD
At the heart of the Escape Hybrid is a compact hybrid transaxle linking Ford’s efficient 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, 65-kW electric motor, 28-kW generator and the drive wheels.

This hybrid system, co-developed by Ford, Volvo and Aisin AW, gives "full" hybrid benefits, including:

Engine stop/start (automatically stops engine while idling and instantly restarts as necessary)
Electric assist (supplements the 2.3-liter gasoline engine when accelerating/passing)
Regenerative braking (recovers energy typically lost as heat through braking friction, storing it for the next acceleration)
Electric drive (in city driving, the gasoline engine may be off as much as 40 percent of the time)
This "full" hybrid functionality is packaged neatly in place of the standard transaxle and is powered by a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack located beneath the rear load floor. Since the battery is charged while braking and cruising, the Escape Hybrid does not need to be "plugged in" like battery-electric vehicles.

Escape Hybrid Show Vehicle

The Escape Hybrid show vehicle is Ice Blue with silver lower body cladding. Differentiating it from production Escape models are its 18-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels; a new front fascia with integrated stylized skid plate and circular fog lamps; quad headlamps and silver honeycomb grille insert. Hybrid graphics with Ford’s road-and-leaf logo further set the Escape Hybrid apart. The rearmost window on the left side is split to accommodate an air extractor for the cooled hybrid battery pack beneath the load floor. The vehicle also has the innovative No Boundaries Rack System available on today’s Escape.

Inside, this Escape Hybrid is trimmed in light ivory leather with leather-and-sisal woven inserts in the seats and door panels. The floor mats also are made from natural woven material. The leather-wrapped steering wheel frames chrome-ringed, satin-white gauges showing the state of the hybrid battery. The tachometer includes an area indicating electric-only mode when the engine is temporarily switched off to save fuel.


A new center console with a leather-wrapped floor-mounted shifter is featured. A single liquid-crystal display in the center console serves as the audio system interface, a navigation system and a real-time "power path" visual indication of the operating state of the hybrid system. It shows, for example, if the battery is being charged or discharged, if the vehicle is recovering energy during braking or if the electric drive is providing additional power. A painted ivory bezel surrounds the LCD screen.

Future Futura Hybrid

The Ford Futura – the first of 10 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products from the same flexible architecture – will be available in 2005, punctuating Ford’s "Year of the Car" strategy next year.

The Futura Hybrid, like the Escape Hybrid, mates a 2.3-liter I-4 gasoline engine with a 65-kW electric motor. The Futura Hybrid will be introduced after the 4- and 6-cylinder models enter production.

The Hybrid Principle

Hybrid vehicles use smaller engines that easily meet the cruising needs of the vehicle, while relying on an electric motor or other assistance to provide the extra power necessary for acceleration and hill climbs. The result is better overall efficiency, without a performance penalty.

Hybrids are designed to recover energy during braking. In traditional vehicles, the energy used to accelerate the car is lost as heat when the driver applies the brakes. Hybrids, on the other hand, can be engineered to recover a substantial portion of what would otherwise be "lost energy" and store it temporarily for use while accelerating again.

The Escape Hybrid is a "full" hybrid, meaning it has a relatively large storage battery and has the capability of driving on electric power alone. Mild hybrids, by contrast, are distinguished by relatively small battery capacity and the inability to propel the vehicle in an electric-only drive mode.

When the driver calls for maximum acceleration, the gasoline engine and the electric motor work in parallel, providing the launch performance of a powerful V-6 engine. In less demanding situations, the Escape Hybrid can run on its electric motor alone, its gasoline engine alone or the most efficient combination of the two.

While cruising on the highway, for example, the gasoline engine is used. But for low-speed driving, such as bumper-to-bumper traffic, the electric motor can be the sole power source and can propel the vehicle without the assistance of the gasoline engine.

An electric power steering assist system remains functional even when the engine shuts down and provides greater efficiency than traditional hydraulic systems.

Ford Escape, A Top-Selling Compact SUV

Introduced as a 2001 model, the Ford Escape provides fun and responsive ride and handling, an outstanding interior package, fuel economy and low emissions in a small, rugged SUV. Available in front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations, the Escape is designed to appeal to customers who want sporty and durable transportation.

The Escape is designed for maximum comfort, convenience, passenger roominess and cargo flexibility. Escape has four doors and a rear lift gate with flip-up glass for access to the cargo area. The cargo area, with the seats down, offers a maximum cargo capacity of 69.2 cubic feet.

Escape has room to carry five adults and their cargo comfortably. Its low step-in height and wide door openings allow good access, while its unibody design provides outstanding handling and ride comfort.

For consumer information regarding the Escape Hybrid, see http://www.fordvehicles.com
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Old 04-16-2003, 20:48   #2 (permalink)
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Escape Hybrid Concept Interior:
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Old 04-17-2003, 20:27   #3 (permalink)
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Ford Plans Market Test For Escape Electric Hybrid

TheAutoChannel
NEW YORK April 17, 2003; Sharon Silke Carty writing for Dow Jones reported that Ford Motor Co. said it won't bring its hybrid electric version of the Ford Escape to mass market until it is satisfied the vehicle is bug-free.

Plans are still under way to introduce the sport utility vehicle to the consumer market in 2004. The hybrids will first be sold to fleet customers - like government entities, rental car companies like Ford's own Hertz, and corporate customers. Ford will use feedback gathered from those drivers to further tweak the SUVs.

"We won't release it until it's ready," said Jim O'Connor, Ford's vice president of North America marketing sales and service.

Prabhakar B. Patil, Ford's chief engineer of hybrid technologies, said the company has run extensive quality-control tests on the vehicle. The battery to run the engine is considerably larger than regular cars - it takes up the entire floor of the Escape's trunk. And since batteries can be temperamental in extreme weather, particularly hot temperatures, Ford had to make sure the battery was well ventilated.

"This type of battery has never been out in the field before," Patil said, noting that batteries operate best at around room temperature.

The rear windows of the Escape have a small vent built into them. Air is funneled through the vent and past the battery in an attempt to keep the unit cool. Computers continually monitor the battery temperature.

The company introduced its Escape hybrid at the New York Auto show. Patil said it should appeal to customers who enjoy the size of an SUV, but who feel guilty about driving less fuel-efficient vehicles.

Although hybrid electric engines are gaining in popularity, automakers are still unsure how large the market will be. Patil pointed out that they show their best fuel economy in urban settings, making them ideal for city drivers.

But the engines - which are fueled by gasoline but supplemented with electric energy - cost extra. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius is priced about $4,000 higher than its Corolla, which is a similar non-hybrid sedan. And Honda Motor Co.'s hybrid Civic costs $2,500 more.

Honda and Toyota hybrid sales amounted to 36,000 in 2002, leaving the automakers wondering whether consumers will pay the extra costs associated with the vehicles. A $3,000 tax incentive, in effect until 2006, may be cut down to $ 1,000, said O'Connor.

A recent survey by Internet auto site Autobytel, which pairs buyers with dealers, showed purchase requests for the Prius were up 58% in the first quarter.

"The survey, coupled with significant online interest in hybrids, suggests that a significant rise in U.S. hybrid sales may be just around the corner, as major automakers prepare to roll out hybrid-powered versions of several of their established, popular models," a press release issued by the company said.

Ford officials hope the Escape, already one of its more popular SUVs, will be a hit. One of the complaints consumers have voiced about the other hybrid vehicles on the market is that they are small.

After five years on the market, Toyota introduced its redesigned version of the Prius, which is about six inches longer and an inch higher. The trunk is more than four square feet larger as well.

Ford is also entering the hybrid sedan market. The Ford Futura, also introduced at the New York Auto Show, which is aimed at the mid-size car market, will be the company's second full-hybrid vehicle.

"Futura will offer a world-class powertrain for the economy-minded consumer, the enthusiast and the environmentally committed driver," said David Szczupak, vice president of Powertrain Operations.
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