(TorqueNews) Ford is beginning to roll out a comprehensive range of clean vehicles, giving their customers the Power of Choice between a range of electric, electrified and otherwise high efficiency cars. The choices revealed so far are the Ford Focus Electric, which is expected to be the first production car with over 100 MPG(equivalent) fuel efficiency, the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, the Ford Focus SE Hybrid, and a range of high miles/gallon gasoline vehicles some of whom have the turbocharged EcoBoost drive train. A part of their rollout is the Power of Choice tour, which visited San Francisco yesterday, and is planned to visit 36 environmentally-focused cities around the country.
Fords focus, if you will, is on getting ahead of the regulations concerning fuel efficiency and environmental emissions footprint. Government regulations don't always give an automaker adequate time to respond to the regulations. Several years ago Ford set up their own blueprint for sustainability and developing a technology roadmap allowing the company to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. The planning and work is beginning to pay off with the first of what will be several generations of cleaner, electrified, vehicle technology enabling Ford to meet future regulations targets while still developing affordable vehicles.
In the near term Ford sees the most benefit will come from improving their gasoline engines and drive trains. This has led to technologies like EcoBoost and a range of small fuel efficient cars, such as the Ford Fiesta (Ford's Power of Choice shows off 2012 Fiesta, a high MPG non-hybrid compact). Over the mid-term Ford expects to achieve more efficiency gains from aggressive weight reduction. The combination of more efficient engines and weight reduction will let Ford achieve the same performance level with a smaller engine that uses less fuel. In the near- and mid- term time frames they're also working on hybrid and full electric vehicles. Ford expects over time to develop a "complete suite of electrified" vehicle options.
A key design choice by Ford is to add electrification to existing vehicle platforms, rather than to develop ground-up custom designed electric vehicles. Which means they have the Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, the Ford Focus and the Focus Electric, and the Ford Transit Connect and Transit Connect Electric (Review of the 2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric), and so on. Other manufacturers have taken a different approach, developing their electric vehicles from the ground up and Fords point might be that their approach lets Ford add electrification to a broader range of vehicles, rather than focusing on one or two vehicles. On the other hand the engineering team then has to fit electric components into a vehicle not designed for those components.
The EcoBoost drive train is a turbo-charged direct injection engine to generate equivalent power with smaller engines. This gives a 20% MPG efficiency improvement, and up to 15% CO2 reduction. It is available in a few models today, and in the 2013-2014 timeframe Ford expects 90% of their vehicles to come with an Ecoboost option. EcoBoost is available as an option on the Ford Explorer, the Ford F-150, the Ford Edge, the Ford Flex, and the Ford Taurus.
For example, the Ford Explorer comes in normal and EcoBoost varieties. The "normal" Explorer (base price $28,280) has a 3.5 liter engine that gets a respectable 25 miles/gallon on the highway and supports towing up to a 5000 lb loaded trailer. The EcoBoost Explorer (base price $29,275) instead has a 2 liter engine, that gets up to 28 miles/gallon on the highway, but does not support towing a trailer. Another example is the F-150 EcoBoost which comes on a 3.5 liter V6 engine that gives the horsepower and towing capacity of the 5.0 liter V8 F-150. Ford's EcoBoost F-150 has been very popular.
Ford uses the word electrification to refer to hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and full electric drive trains (BEV). It's an interesting choice of words, but does convey the shift from vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels to ones powered in part or totally by electricity.
Electrification and the EcoBoost engines have played a strong role in Ford now offering several vehicle choices with greater than 40 miles/gallon fuel efficiency. These include the Ford Transit Connect (Review of the 2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric), the Ford Focus SE, the Ford Fiesta (Ford's Power of Choice shows off 2012 Fiesta, a high MPG non-hybrid compact), the Ford Focus Electric, the Ford C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid as well as three vehicles promised to be unveiled in 2012. Ford's goal is to have 10-25% of their 2020 sales be electrified vehicles. This goal perhaps puts Ford ahead of the prediction ExxonMobil made recently that in 2040, 50% of vehicles would be electrified (ExxonMobil predicts electrified vehicles will be mainstream by 2040).
The C-MAX vehicles are built on Ford's C-segment platform and are two of the five electrified vehicles Ford plans to launch in 2012. The C-MAX Hybrid is a normal (not plug-in) hybrid which is expected to beat the Toyota Prius v in fuel efficiency. The C-MAX Energi is a plug-in hybrid with a 20-30 mile electric-only range. Both offer a high roof-line to give plenty of headroom, and interior versatility. Both use a 2 liter Atkinson cycle engine coupled through a CVT that allows the engine to remain at peak operating efficiency while performing its job. It uses Fords powersplit technology allowing the engine and electric motor to operate jointly or independently depending on the needs of the moment, and to decouple engine RPM from vehicle speed allowing it to run as a generator to charge the batteries. The C-MAX vehicles will be on sale in late 2012.
The Ford Focus Electric is a fully electric version of the popular Ford Focus. It is Ford's first all electric car and Ford also expects it to be the first car of its kind to exceed 100 miles/gallon equivalent efficiency. As noted earlier (Consumer Reports: Leaf and Volt cheaper to run than gasoline cars) the miles/gallon equivalency on an electric vehicle is based on a conversion factor equating the energy content of gasoline to electrical energy. It will also be the first production all electric car with a standard 6.6 kilowatt charger on-board allowing charging at twice the speed of the other electric cars whose charger is only 3.3 kilowatts. Range should be around 100 miles from the 23 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and the faster charger will make opportunity charging a more effective way to extend your daily driving range. It will contain the full suite of Ford Focus options, and have a base price of $39,200 with federal incentives bringing the price down to $32,000. The Ford Focus Electric should go on sale any day now.
Ford has an impressive array of choices either available now or coming soon.