Nov 2, 2008

Ford's New Smarter Hybrids

Ford showed off the upcoming 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid yesterday at the company’s product development center. Ford emphasized two main talking points for its first two hybrid sedans:

  • More All-Electric Driving

    The Fusion Hybrid and Milan Hybrid can travel as a fast as 47 miles per hour, and as far as eight miles, solely on electric power.

  • Class-Leading Fuel Economy

    The hybrid sedans will offer city fuel economy of approximately 38 miles per gallon—beating the Camry Hybrid by 5 mpg.

City fuel economy for the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is expected to reach 38 mpg, almost doubling the city efficiency of the non-hybrid Fusion.

The two hybrids will officially debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and will arrive in showrooms in Spring 2009. The engine for the Fusion and Milan hybrids is a 155-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder. With the addition of the Fusion and Milan hybrids, Ford plans to double its annual hybrid sales from 25,000 to 50,000. Currently, Ford offers hybrid versions of the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and Mazda Tribute—all are SUVs.

The new hybrids will up the ante on Ford’s hybrid technology. The cars will use a newly developed battery pack that is smaller yet more powerful than the batteries in the Escape and Mariner. And the new pack uses air from the car's interior to keep the batteries cool, rather than the vehicle's air conditioner. In addition, the AC can fully function from electric power alone—even when the gas engine is off.

Ford also gave the Fusion a cosmetic makeover, giving a more muscular look than its predecessor.

Ford Hybrids Come with Fuel Economy Nag

The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid will be the first to use Ford’s new SmartGuage technology. Inspired by the Toyota Prius’s hybrid energy/consumption monitor, the SmartGauge goes further by helping the driver to learn specific techniques to achieve higher efficiency. The dashboard interface offers feedback to the driver—both visual and sound. In other words, it actually talks to you. “Unique to Ford and Mercury hybrid sedans, this instrument cluster acts as a good ‘coach,’ engaging drivers real-time to help them achieve maximum fuel economy,” Gil Portalatin, Ford’s Hybrid Applications Manager told Automobile Magazine.

The Ford SmartGuage "coaches" the driver on how to achieve maximum fuel economy.

The gauge cluster is comprised of dual hi-resolution LCD screens to display instantaneous mileage and fuel economy history—as well as key data including battery charge, engine output, and accessory power consumption. One animation depicts a vine of leaves that grows larger as the driver becomes more efficient over time. To prevent sensory overload, the system allows the driver to decide how much information to see, and what can be ignored.

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