It's a great time to be a technology geek in the automotive
world. Over the past year, we've seen some impressive gains in "clean diesel"
fuel cell concepts, more
powerful gasoline-electric hybrid automobiles and hybrids with plug-in capabilities.
Ford is now upping the ante with a special version of its recently introduced Edge crossover
utility vehicle (CUV).
Edge with HySeries Drive concept features a flexible vehicle architecture
which allows it to accept a wide variety of powertrain options. HySeries Drive
technology allows the Edge to accept gasoline engines, diesel engines or fuel
cells which can be used in conjunction with an electric motor and battery pack.
This allows Ford to produce, for example, a gasoline-electric hybrid version
for North America and a diesel-electric hybrid version for Europe. "This
vehicle offers Ford the ultimate in flexibility in researching advanced
propulsion technology," said Ford Motor Company's Gerhard Schmidt.
In its current form, the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive uses
a 350-bar hydrogen fuel cell (4.5 kg of useable hydrogen) in addition to
electric motors which are fed by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The Ford
Edge with HySeries Drive is always powered by its battery pack, but the pack itself
can be recharged in one of two ways.
Since the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive is a plug-in hybrid,
the batteries can be fully topped off by plugging the vehicle into a standard
home outlet using the onboard 110/220 charger. Once the battery pack has been whittled
down to 40% capacity, its second source of recharging comes online. The hydrogen
fuel cell takes over and generates electricity to replenish the battery pack.
All of this technology working together gives the Ford Edge
with HySeries Drive the equivalent combined city/highway economy rating of
41MPG. The vehicle is able to operate for the first 25 miles on battery power
alone given a fully topped off battery. After that point, the fuel cell kicks
in to replenish the batteries giving an additional 200 miles of range.
According to Ford, the equivalent economy rating could jump to 80MPG for
drivers who travel less than 50 miles per day.
Ford acknowledges that is has technological challenges ahead
of it in its efforts to bring HySeries Drive technology to production. The
company cites the need for a healthier hydrogen refueling infrastructure, more
durable fuel cell components and more cost-effective lithium-ion batteries.