New electrification center will spearhead company's efforts

Since the March 2009 launch of the Fusion Hybrid, Ford Motor Comp.'s (F) Advanced Engineering Center (AEC) -- a 285,000 square foot high-tech engineering laboratory in Dearborn, Mich. -- has increasingly seen its space devoted to electrification efforts.

This year with five new electrified vehicle launches -- the Focus Electric battery electric vehicle (BEVs); the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs); and the C-MAX hybrid and new Fusion hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) -- Ford decided to make the takeover of the AEC complete.  This week Ford announced that the center would be rechristened as The Ford Advanced Electrification Center, preserving the AEC moniker.

The center currently houses 1,000 engineers, including 60 new engineers hired during 2011.  In addition to EV testing facilities, the center also features state-of-the-art noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) testing facilities, which constituted the majority of the research performed on-site when the AEC first opened in 1993.

The AEC revamp is part of a major $135M USD electrification investment, from Ford, but the domestic automaker hopes that it will yield significant technological and production advantages.  Ford says the center was crucial in cutting the cost of its new hybrid system by 30 percent, and says that the center will further accelerate electrified vehicle development by 25 percent.

Ford's electrification bid will be driven by the revamped AEC. [Image Source: Ford]

Ford is also working to bring more testing capabilities for batteries -- the common component between BEVs, PHEVs, and HEVs -- in house.  It will be expanding its number of testing channels from 80 to 160 by 2013.

That's all part of the "electric vision" that Sherif Marakby, former Director of Ford's Hybrid and Electric vehicles program, laid out for us in a 2011 interview.  Early sales of the Focus Electric have been less that stellar, but with its hybrids getting industry leading MPG ratings and aggressive pricing, it seems a matter of time before the rest of Ford's electric lineup follows in the footsteps of the successful Fusion Hybrid, the best-selling American-made hybrid.

Source: Ford

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