Powered by the world's first supercharged hydrogen internal combustion engine, equipped with a hybrid electric transmission and pioneering green materials and processes, Model U is a vision for the future. It is Ford's model for change - exploring the benefits a vehicle provides to its users, the way it is manufactured and how it impacts the world.
It is the Model T of the 21st century.
Inspired by how the Model T revolutionized personal transportation in the last century, a team of Ford researchers and designers created Model U. It is a clear expression of Ford Motor Company's strategy to pursue future automotive technologies without compromising today's customer expectations for personal mobility. It is a car designed to be good to you and good for the world.
"When Henry Ford built the Model T, it was affordable, offered the most advanced manufacturing and was built with the most advanced materials," says Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Ford Motor Company vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering. "In a similar but entirely contemporary way, Model U starts a new cycle. Emissions, safety and fuel economy, also green materials and processes, are all key questions facing the entire industry. We believe the Model U addresses them all."
A partnership was struck among Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford's Brand Imaging Group (an internal design think tank), Bill McDonough (architect of the new Rouge Center and co-founder, with Dr. Michael Braungart, of the product design firm MBDC), BP and a host of technology suppliers.
"Model U is very different from most futuristic concept vehicles," says J Mays, vice president of Design. "It tries to address the challenges of the future and proposes exciting, realistic solutions that exceed current industry standards. Therefore, I hope it does justice to the name 'Model for Change.'"
Model U offers SUV driving excitement that is affordable, but can grow with a customer's lifestyle and aspirations. It is designed for mass production, but has nearly infinite capacity for being personalized and upgraded. It offers advanced technologies that respond to customers' desires for convenience, entertainment and continuously improved safety. And it looks at how building a car, truck or SUV can strengthen the environment.
"What I think is so exciting about Model U is that it opens the door to a whole new way of looking at things, just like the Model T did," says McDonough. "The vision behind Model U is entirely positive. Instead of focusing on minimizing environmental harm, which is what most approaches to sustainable mobility do, Model U starts to find ways to be re-creational and regenerative - to have fun and create environmental benefits at the same time. That's a totally new vision for the auto industry."
Reconfigurable Interior and Exterior - Model U can adapt to each person's individuality. Its interior is modular, allowing for ongoing upgrades. The Model U has a series of slots in the floor, door panels and instrument panel in which different components can be mounted, moved around or added later. The slots are designed to provide power and access to the vehicle's electronic network. The exterior is highlighted by a power retractable roof, rear window, tailgate and trunk, allowing the vehicle to go from closed to open.
Hydrogen ICE plus Hybrid Electric Powertrain - A 2.3-liter, four-cylinder supercharged, intercooled hydrogen internal combustion engine, coupled with a hybrid electric transmission, propels Model U. It offers enhanced fuel economy - the equivalent of 45 miles per gallon and about 300 miles of range - plus near-zero regulated emissions and a 99-percent reduction in carbon dioxide. The powertrain also features Ford's advanced Modular Hybrid Transmission System, a way to simplify hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology in manufacturing, while contributing to significant fuel economy improvements. This vehicle can meet PZEV emissions.
Conversational Speech Interface - Model U showcases the most advanced conversational speech technology displayed to date. It allows a person to speak naturally to operate on-board systems including entertainment, navigation, cellular telephone and climate control.
Improved Driver Visibility and Awareness through Active Safety - Model U features pre-crash sensing, adaptive front headlights and an advanced night vision system to help the driver avoid accidents before they occur.
Green materials and processes - The Model U features advanced materials that have been designed for the optimum health of the car's occupants. These were designed for their ecological effects and can go from cradle-to-cradle, instead of staying in typical cradle-to-grave waste streams.