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Ford's $2 million USD plug-in hybrid fuel cell vehicle

From top to bottom: fuel cell, hydrogen tank and li-ion battery pack
Edmunds gets a test drive in Ford's multi-million dollar concept

About a month ago, DailyTech first brought you a glimpse at Ford's Edge HySeries crossover utility vehicle (CUV). In its current form, the concept features a hydrogen fuel cell, a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack and electric motors for propulsion. Ford can also adapt the chassis to accommodate gasoline-electric or diesel-electric hybrid powertrains.

The editors at Edmunds were recently given a chance to drive the $2 million USD Ford Edge HySeries concept vehicle. The 5,400 pound CUV is powered solely by electricity, so power delivery is turbine smooth and quiet. Edmunds likened its forward progress to that of a "horizontal elevator." And by using a hydrogen fuel cell, the Edge HySeries has no harmful emissions and only releases water vapor into the environment.

The Edge HySeries’ powertrain is mounted low in the chassis for better weight distribution. One electric motor is located at each axle while the fuel cell and batteries are located under the driver and passenger seat respectively. The 350-bar hydrogen fuel tank is mounted along the vehicle's centerline under the center console.

Since Edmunds was given the keys to a prototype vehicle, performance wasn't quite up to production levels. The vehicle was admittedly running at 50% of its potential, so acceleration was a bit on the slow side compared to its gasoline-engined counterpart – the additional 870 pounds of heft doesn’t help either. On the other hand, the vehicle was nearly silent under acceleration with just the hum of the fuel cell compressor penetrating the cabin.

With a fully topped off battery and a full hydrogen tank, the HySeries should offer a driving range of 225 miles and a combined city/highway rating of 41MPG. This is quite favorable to the newly revised 2008 EPA ratings for some of the most popular hybrid automobiles on the North American market. The Prius, Camry Hybrid and Civic Hybrid are rated at 46MPG, 34MPG and 42MPG combined respectively under the new EPA guidelines.

With North American vehicles coming up on the short end of the stick with regards to fuel efficiency, it's good to see car manufactures looking towards technology to improve fuel efficiency given America’s apprehension to diesel power in consumer automobiles. Multi-million dollar investments in test vehicles like Ford's Edge HySeries and GM's Volt and Sequel mean that we as consumers will reap the benefits in the near future.



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RE: If they care about economy...
By evildorf on 2/26/2007 4:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair to the guy just above your reply masher2, I think he was wanting evidence to support your figures on switching SUVs to cars only saving 10% and the other bit about reducing miles driven saving a lot more. That per- capita-miles-driven has been increasing is probably not a surprise to him/her, and that item is the one addressed by your link.
Your link does, interestingly enough, say the following: "In addition, two segments of the light truck fleet--minivans and sport utility-vehicles--were driven more miles per year per vehicle than were passenger cars." So at least according to 1994 data (I suppose of questionable validity now that it's 2007) not only are people living farther from wherever it is they're trying to get to (work, etc.) they are driving less efficient vehicles in order to get there. Your personal driving habits aside (only burning 5 gallons a week in an SUV is an admirable feat), it seems that the idea that more efficient cars are driven proportionally more than SUVs/minivans holds little truth.
On the article itself, the vehicle looks good but I'm a bit leery on the whole fuel cell thing. For a big hydrogen supply, we'll need to split a lot of water, which requires a great deal of energy by itself. Though how this compares to the energy required to pump an equivalent amount of hydrocarbons out of the ground, I don't know. Also, the range of this vehicle isn't very impressive, and I think that's going to remain a problem until they get the hydrogen-to-storage medium mass ratio down.


RE: If they care about economy...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/26/2007 4:49:13 PM , Rating: 1
> "I think he was wanting evidence to support your figures on switching SUVs to cars only saving 10%"

All light trucks (which includes pickups, SUVs, and minivans) account for only 1/3 the miles travelled in the US. (data in the link above). SUVs account for roughly 1/3 of that. That's only an 11% savings, even if you swapped every SUV for a bicycle. Realistically, swapping an SUV for an car with equal passenger capacity, you'd save only about 3-4% of all national usage. So my original 10% figure was actually highly optimistic.

> "So...not only are people living farther from wherever it is they're trying to get to (work, etc.) they are driving less efficient vehicles in order to get there..."

False correlation. That data is by household, not individual. Larger households (especially those with many children) tend to drive more miles. Larger households are more likely to own an SUV or a minivan.


RE: If they care about economy...
By evildorf on 2/26/2007 8:23:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I agree with your estimate then. On the other point, technically it's per vehicle, not per household and I'd surmise that larger households also tend to have more vehicles...though that almost certainly doesn't scale linearly (people to vehicles). Anyway, my point was only that according to that study, SUVs/minivans are driven for more mileage, individually, than other (usually more fuel efficient) vehicles.
I think I recall you stating that most of the gas is being used by people commuting large distances in smaller cars. That statement is neither proven nor disproven by the study we've been discussing, though the fact that SUVs are driven for more miles appears to lean away from it. Was your statement an expectation or a quotation of fact? I don't mind being proven wrong, it's simply that my expectation is opposite of yours.


By masher2 (blog) on 2/26/2007 8:49:22 PM , Rating: 1
> "I think I recall you stating that most of the gas is being used by people commuting large distances in smaller cars..."

That may be true, but its not quite what I'm saying. My point is really very simple, and just a statement of statistics. Vehicle mileage varies anywhere from around 10mpg (Hummer) up to 50mpg (Prius). Thats a 5:1 ratio.

Miles driven in the US, though varies from below 4K miles/year to over 100K miles/year. That's a ratio of over 25:1. A far broader bell curve, and therefore a much more significant variance.

The conclusion? Total gasoline consumption in the US is driven much less by people driving cars below average on efficiency, and much more by people driving more miles than the national average. It doesn't matter why they're driving, or what they're driving in...that half of the bell curve is the one with all the weight.

That same conclusion can be proven in a wholly different manner. Vehicle mileage has increased considerably since 1950. Yet, even allowing for population increases, our total gasoline consumption is up sharply. Why? Because more efficient cars don't have nearly the impact that total miles do...and our total miles keep going up and up.


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