The Ford Explorer Hybrid
SUV has not hit showrooms yet, and may never. But, the
Ford Explorer Hybrid does exist. In fact, it exists many
times over. Just ask many of the engineers and engineering
students who have built their own versions of Ford Explorer
Hybrids. In 2004, Ford held its FutureTruck
2004 Competition, which challenged "
teams of students from 15 top North American universities
to continue reengineering a conventional, mid-size Ford
Explorer into a lower-emissions vehicle with at least
25-percent higher fuel economy, without sacrificing the
performance, utility, safety, and affordability consumers
Ford goes on to say, "FutureTruck is a unique five-year
engineering program that brings together the resources of industry,
government, and academia in a cooperative effort to address
important environmental and energy-related issues posed by the
growing demand for sport utility vehicles (SUVs). FutureTruck
is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Ford Motor Company,
and a variety of other sponsors and is managed by Argonne National
Laboratory's Center for Transportation Research."
above is a Ford Explorer Hybrid SUV pulling a load up
a steep hill.
The University of Wisconsin, Madison FutureTruck Team won
the competition the last three years running. The Explorer
Hybrid that they nicknamed 'Moolander' (a parallel hybrid-electric
vehicle) was able to achieve twice the fuel economy as the
stock Ford Explorer vehicle. The team accomplished this
task by hybridizing the drive train and using mass-reduction
techniques such as aluminum parts wherever possible.
Even though the FutureTruck Challenge ended with the 2004
competition, GM picked up the baton with their own 2005
Challenge X Competition, inviting 17 top team
from across North America to compete. What do you know -
The University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada took first place.
Looks like our neighbors to the north know a few things
about trucks and SUV's also.