With a full suite of new electrified vehicles coming to market over the next two years, Ford is pushing ahead with key technologies to advance its electrification strategy. At this week's SAE 2011 World Congress, Chuck Gray, Ford chief engineer of Global Core Engineering Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, will share his insights on the emerging top five electrification technologies, ranging from batteries and motors to Human Machine Interface (HMI) features.
"As we see continuing escalation in the price of fuel, people are becoming more interested in electrified products," Gray explained. "We've developed a clearer picture of how these technologies can be leveraged and brought to market, and we're confident that each will further improve the efficiency of our expanded portfolio of products."
Ford has more than 244 patents for its electrification technology. The company's top five electrification technologies being discussed by Gray are:
Ford's popular fuel-saving technology that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop – a feature found today on Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid and on some Ford cars in Europe – will soon be added to conventional cars, crossovers and SUVs in North America.
Ford's patented new Auto Start-Stop system for gasoline engines will improve fuel economy for most drivers by at least 4 percent. The gain can be as high as 10 percent for some drivers, depending on vehicle size and usage. It also reduces tailpipe emissions to zero while the vehicle is stationary or waiting at a stoplight with the engine off.
Human Machine Interface
HMI – the way the vehicle interacts with the driver – is a significant component in Ford's suite of electrified vehicles that helps to inform, enlighten, engage and empower drivers.
Just as the growing leafy vine of today's SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide represents fuel efficiency in Fusion Hybrid, the cluster display in the all-new Focus Electric will use blue butterflies to represent the surplus range beyond one's charge point destination – the more butterflies there are, the greater the range.
At the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and a comparative gasoline savings achieved by driving electric. Other range enablers will include a budget view, range view and Brake Coach, which gives drivers feedback on their braking performance to maximize recuperation back into the battery.
The new Focus Electric also will feature the MyFord Touch™ map-based Navigation System using the vehicle's center stack 8-inch touch screen, which is another iteration of HMI. After adding their driving destinations, including their next charge point, into the vehicle's Navigation System, the vehicle will coach drivers on how to achieve the desired range – or if travel plans need to be adjusted. The onboard Navigation System provides an EcoRoute option based on characteristics of efficient EV driving.
The new Ford C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models, to be launched in 2012, build on the success of the critically acclaimed powersplit architecture Ford uses in its current hybrids, including Fusion Hybrid.
In a powersplit hybrid, the electric motor and gasoline-powered engine can work together or separately to maximize efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions, and work with the engine at higher speeds.
While this system enables the current Fusion Hybrid to operate in fuel-saving electric mode up to 47 mph, Ford is targeting higher electric operating speeds for C-MAX Hybrid and even more capability for C-MAX Energi, which will have the advantage of additional battery power.
Ford's future hybrid and electric vehicles will use new lithium-ion battery systems that are designed to maximize use of common, high-quality components, such as control board hardware that has proven field performance in Ford's current, critically acclaimed hybrid vehicles.
Li-ion battery packs offer a number of advantages over the nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries that power today's hybrid vehicles. In general, they are 25 to 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter, which makes them easier to package in a vehicle, and they can be tuned to increase power to boost acceleration or to increase energy to extend driving distance.
Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models all will be powered by advanced lithium-ion battery systems that are being engineered by Ford. The Focus Electric battery system uses heated and cooled liquid to help maximize battery life and fuel-free driving range.
Thermal management of lithium-ion battery systems is critical to the success of pure electric vehicles. The system also features cabin climate preconditioning while on charge from the wall plug to further maximize electric range during driving.
"Our battery and motor systems engineering are key enablers of our electrification strategy," said Gray. "Our goals are to continue to improve energy efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs, providing a value benefit to the consumer."
Regenerative braking system
Regenerative braking is a function that captures the energy normally lost through friction in braking and stores it. Greater than 90 percent energy recovery is achieved by delivering full regenerative braking, which means less than 10 percent of braking is through traditional friction brakes.
The power of choice
Electrification is an important piece of Ford's overall product sustainability strategy, which includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year. In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. This diverse range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.