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Ford Hybrid Cars

Ford hybrid cars were once mythical beasts rumored to exist in concept car back-shops in offshore locations. When most people speak of the new Ford hybrid car they are actually referring to Ford's new hybrid Escape SUV.

That was until Ford announced its new Fusion will be hybridized in 2008. One must applaud Ford for bringing the Escape hybrid SUV, with its 36 city and 31 hwy mpg ratings to market as well as the upcoming 2008 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Off to a slow start in the car market, Ford has actually rolled out a concept hybrid car, the Ford-Mercury Meta One Concept, which is a diesel-electric hybrid and expects to have a crossover production vehicle in the showrooms in 2007. "Meta One is a test-bed for advanced technologies allowing us to highlight future safety and power-train technologies that exist only in theory and in laboratories today," says Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. The Meta One is the world's first Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) diesel-electric hybrid. Ford is still hedging though on whether it is calling this vehicle a car or an SUV.



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Whatever it is, though, it is powerful. According to Ford, "The Mercury Meta One concept draws its power from a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel engine and an electric motor in the modular hybrid transmission that together produce as much torque as a large V-10 gasoline engine - with much lower fuel consumption. Combined with an advanced exhaust after-treatment system, the power-train provides an unprecedented combination of power and purity."

Designed to work with bio-diesel fuel, the engine is an extraordinarily stiff Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) engine block that is twice as strong as a conventional gasoline engine and much lighter. The CGI block handles more power, less noise and shake and the twin turbochargers, aluminum four-valve heads and piezo-actuated common-rail fuel injection make it a state-of-the-art diesel fuel engine.

A Modular Hybrid Transmission (MHT), electric motor and two hydraulic clutches replace the 6-speed automatic transmission to provide a smoother ride and better fuel economy. Fuel economy is especially realized at lower speeds.

The Ford-Mercury Meta One hybrid is also focused on safety. The vehicle contains technology that will warn if the driver drifts from his or her travel lane and even applies the brakes if an accident is imminent. Ford's Lane Departure Warning uses a camera system to recognize lane markings and offer visual, audible and /or vibration warnings to the driver if the vehicle departs from a distinguishable lane without activation of the appropriate turn signal. Ford will have to deal with the annoyance factor on this one for those who wish to turn off the system if desired.

In the Meta One, Ford is using a CMbB (Collision Mitigation by Braking) system, which is comprised on a camera, radar and onboard computer that will determine if an accident is inevitable. Once this determination has been affirmed, and the driver fails to react, the system will initiate the full anti-lock braking (ABS) without taking away from any evasive maneuver the driver may employ.

Though the Meta One will probably remain a concept vehicle, it will serve as a springboard for hybrid technology to be implemented to Ford's already established lines of vehicles. If future sales are successful there will most likely be a Ford / Willie Nelson co-branding alliance and we'll start seeing commercials for the new bio-diesel line of Ford hybrid vehicles running on Bio-Willy to the tune of "On The Road Again." What a concept!

Another concept vehicle that Ford has been touting is the Ford Focus Hybrid Fuel Cell Vehicle . Like the name implies, the Focus Hybrid is powered by hydrogen fuel cell, electric motor and a Sanyo Ni-MH high voltage battery pack system. Like other hybrids, the Focus Hybrid uses a regenerative braking system to recharge the battery pack (Continental Teves Electro-Hydraulic Brake (EHB) Systemz).

When the Ford Focus Hybrid Fuel Cell Vehicle is rolled out, it will most likely be a fleet sales deal. The Focus Hybrid may be used as a shuttle around airports, fairgrounds or other large conventions. A local hydrogen fueling station will need to be nearby, though as the infrastructure to support hydrogen cars has not yet been built.

When the Ford Fusion Hybrid Car rolls out in 2008 it will be the fourth full hydrid vehicle in Ford's lineup, with the other three being Ford / Mercury SUVs.

There are several other Ford hybrids rolling out within the next several years that are worth checking out as well.