Transportation & Fuel Source Technology
Ford Shows Off World's First Drivable Plug-In Fuel Cell Vehicle
The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive, the world's first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle, hit the streets of Canada for the first time in Vancouver Wednesday as part of a trip to showcase the advanced research vehicle alongside its most technologically advanced production vehicle, the new hot-selling 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.
The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive combines an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries to deliver a combined city/highway gasoline equivalent fuel economy rating of 5.9 L/100km (41 mpg) with zero emissions. For those who drive less than 80 km (50 miles) each day, the average jumps to more than 3.0L /100 km (80 mpg).
It is built on a flexible powertrain architecture that will enable Ford to use new fuel and propulsion technologies as they develop without redesigning the vehicle.
The new HySeries Drive powertrain featured in a Ford Edge uses a real-world version of the powerplant envisioned in the Ford Airstream concept unveiled in January at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In late January, the Edge with HySeries Drive hit the road and has accumulated more than 8000 real-world km (5000 miles).
The plug-in hybrid is powered by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack at all times. The vehicle drives the first 40 km (25 miles) each day on stored electricity alone, after which the fuel cell begins operating to keep the battery pack charged. This provides another 320 km (200 miles) of range for a total of 360 km (225 miles) with zero emissions. Individual experiences will vary widely and can stretch out the time between fill-ups to more than 640 km (400 miles): drivers with modest daily needs would need to refuel only rarely, drivers who travel less than 80 km (50 miles) each day will see fuel economy well over 3.0 L /100 km (80 mpg), while those with long daily commutes will see somewhat lower numbers as the fuel cell must run a larger fraction of the time.
Edge with HySeries Drive can travel at speeds of up to 136 km/h (85 mph). An on-board charger (110/220 VAC) can refresh the battery pack when a standard home outlet is available, making the concept a true plug-in hybrid.
When the battery pack is depleted to approximately 40 percent, the hydrogen fuel cell - supplied by Ford partner Ballard - automatically turns on and begins generating electricity to recharge the batteries. Like a conventional automobile, the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive will go until it runs out of fuel - in this case via a 350-bar hydrogen tank that supplies 4.5 kg of useable hydrogen.
The HySeries Drive name is derived from the powertrain's structure: a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered series hybrid drivetrain. This highly innovative approach reduces the size, weight, cost and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50 percent. It also promises to more than double the lifetime of the fuel cell stack.
This flexible powertrain architecture enables the use of new fuel and propulsion technologies as they develop and become available without the need to redesign the vehicle and its control systems.
Certainly, many significant technical hurdles need to be overcome before a vehicle such as the Edge with HySeries Drive can become a reality. Fuel cell vehicles remain expensive, costing millions of dollars each. And the single biggest hurdle to plug-ins remains the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Much work also needs to be done to make fuel cells more durable and to create a hydrogen infrastructure.
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