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 two 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.

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 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.


  • Paul Rivers

    Sound pretty cool…I would never buy one of the older Fords (Fix Or Repair Daily? Found On Roadside Dead?) as they has terrible reliability and fuel economy. But they seem to be producing at least one interesting, very reliable, very fuel efficient car nowadays…

  • John K.

    Now this is great! My only questions are, what will it go 0-60 mph in and what will its price be?

    Finally a “real” hybrid that will appeal to the vast majority of Americans in middle America. This is a lot better than having to wait for Chevy to shoehorn their 2Mode system into their Malibu (if that is even possible). This will appeal to average Americans (the type who do not visit sites like this), who would be turned off by the “radical” Prius or Chevy Volt. Plus, its mileage puts the Camry (and Altima?) hybrid to shame.

    This represents the mainstreaming of real hybrid technology — an important step along the way to our electric future!

    BTW some interesting online videos to motivate your politically conservative friends to buy into hybrid/electric cars can be viewed at: http://radicalislam.org/content/anne-korins-oil-solution

  • John K.

    “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.”

    The more I think about this, the more I think Ford could offer plug-in versions of these cars “as is” BEFORE either the plug-in Prius or Volt makes it to market! Even if they have to use a “dumb power cord” (vs the hi-tech Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J1772 standard), this would still be a MAJOR step forward. Again, unlike a plug-in Prius or Volt, these would be PHEVs that would appeal to the vast majority of Americans.

    How can we encourage Ford to do this?

  • sean t

    “The hybrid sedans will offer city fuel economy of approximately 38 miles per gallon—beating the Camry Hybrid by 5 mpg.”
    Hang on, Camry has been in Production for some years, and those Fords are still in “product development centre”. How about comparing them to the Camry which is still in “development”?

    Anyway, it’s good to see Ford going this way. It’s good for America.

  • Shines

    This is good news. More competition to the Camry and Altima. 38 MPG in a comfortable sedan – excellent.
    Now if Ford hadn’t gotten carried away with the excessively bulbous oversized too much chrome grill on the Fusion I seriously consider it. I hate to complain, but man the Fusion grill is over the top for me. It makes me mad – I like Fords and the car is mostly a transportation vehicle so what it looks like shouldn’t matter. But I find the oversized grill on the Fusion offensive. The chrome strips don’t look bad on some of the larger Fords – looks great on the Flex for example.
    Wow all that for a stupid grill…
    When I’m in the market I’ll look at the Mercury Milan – which is basically the same car – with a much nicer looking front.

  • Ross Nicholson

    I’ll believe it when I see it and drive it.

  • steved28

    I beat 38mpg (in town) with my Altima hybrid all the time (without much effort), so this car should be capable of mid forties. I question what the wait is on this vehicle. It’s basically the same technology as the Escape hybrid, with a better battery.

    John K, my Altima 0-60 times are pretty respectable with the same size engine. Less than 8 seconds.

  • RKRB

    Thanks for the article! Hope this is available to us soon — the Fiesta should be here around the same time, and this will give us two excellent model choices for fuel economy.

    We have had a hybrid Escape since 2005 and it is the most trouble-free car we can recall owning. 30,000 miles without one single problem, and scheduled maintenance is less expensive too, because of things like extended oil changes. It’s a peppy, enjoyable, practical car. We wish Ford well!

  • Need2Change

    Ford is testing Plug-in Excapes with utility companies. If the government rebates are large enough, I’m sure we’ll see plug-in Fusions.

  • owlafaye

    155 HP? 2.5 liter engine (2500cc) They aren’t fooling me.

    You will be lucky to average 30 mpg and lets hope the accessories, acceleration and luxury are what you really wanted because that is what these cars are geared towards. People who don’t know better, buy these cars and wonder why they aren’t much different from cars built 5 years ago, but cost twice as much.

    Economy cars don’t have large engines and full accessories but they do get fabulous mileage. Diesels of coursed, get the best and offer a few luxuries in addition.

  • GR

    “One animation depicts a vine of leaves that grows larger as the driver becomes more efficient over time.”

    You have to admit, that is pretty cool. Good job Ford.

    Btw Shines, I like the grill on the Fusion. It’s what helps it stand out from other sedans.

  • bill cosworth

    Sold.

    My ford explorer has over 240 k on it and I wanted to replace it.

    Never given me a ounce of trouble so now I know my next ford.

  • steved28

    “155 HP? 2.5 liter engine (2500cc) They aren’t fooling me.”

    They must have fooled me, because my Altima hybrid has a 158HP 2.5L engine and right now my tank average is at 42mpg. And a Camry hybrid (2.4L) will get slightly bette mpg than my car. These cars work, they easily beat EPA estimates, no one is fooling anyone.

  • Kman

    38 mpg. Big Deal!

    My 2001 Ford Focus with a regular little 4 banger averages 35 mpg. I just cant get excited about a hybrid that gets just 3 mpg more.

    Why don’t these hybrids do ALOT better mileage?

  • hybridman2

    More pomp and circumstance over non news. Big deal, 3 MPG more AND a nagging car that reminds you to drive like it demands. If Ford actually had a better idea, they would be building a superior car with dramatic mpg increases – then they wouldn’t have to design a nag to try to make their car look like it performs better.

    Cool instrument panel though- props on that one.

    Bob

  • steved28

    Kman and hybridman2, you guys are comparing apples to oranges. First of all, a Fusion is NOT a Focus. Second, the EPA numbers for a 2001 Focus are 22 city/ 29 Highway, that figure goes up to 25/32 for the 5 spd. So to say “I average 35mpg” is either a lie, or you also have to increase the new Fusion numbers by that percentage to compare. The 2001 Ford Focus 5 spd manual averages 28.5mpg according to the EPA, the Fusion hybrid averages 38mpg according to the EPA. The Fusion is bigger, has more power, it is not the same market as a Focus, that’s why they make more than one model at Ford. The current Fusion EPA numbers are 20/29. The hybrid is a significant improvement, but some people will never be satisified I guess. My advice to you, pass it by, there will be plenty of others to take your place in line.

  • kman

    Okay Steve, how many Focus’ do you own. The 35 mpg is average. gets better on highway.

    The point is Why sell a car just because its a hybrid. I thought hybrid technology was supposed to create a better environment and less dependecy on fossil fuels, etc. etc.

    It seems to me that car mfrs. are just selling hybrid technology to people like you so you can sleep better at night, not to save any money.

  • John K.

    “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.”

    This is with NiMH batteries. How much faster/further they will go when they switch to Li ion? If Ford switched to Li ion and offer it as a PHEV in Nov 2009 when the plug-in Prius will go on sale — a year ahead of the plug-in Volt and Vue — that would be a major coup on Ford’s part.

    Some responses:

    sean t wrote: “those Fords are still in “product development centre”. How about comparing them to the Camry which is still in ‘development’?”
    The article says, “The two hybrids will officially debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and will arrive in showrooms in Spring 2009.” These cars are not “still in development.” They were only shown in the development center. They will go on sale next spring, in about 6 months.

    Shines: I agree the grill is a little too much for my taste — no car is “perfect.” But remember, you are seeing it on a blue car which increases the grill’s contrast. The grill MAY look a lot better (i.e., be less noticeable) on a silver or gray car.

    Ross N.: You can see it from November 20 to 31 at the LA Auto Show and you can drive (and buy) it in about 6 months — sometime next spring.

    steved28: I hope it will do that good. Many people forget that last year the EPA revised how it tests the mileage of cars. I wouldn’t be surprised now if some people’s city/hwy driving got them better mileage than the EPA estimates.

    N2C: thanks for reminding me. I hope Ford (and many others) offer plug-ins ASAP so that we can break the monopoly of oil over personal transportation.

    owlafaye wrote: “You will be lucky to average 30 mpg.” As I mentioned above, the new EPA estimates are much closer to what most people will achieve, esp w/hybrids (whose pre-2008 EPA estimates were WAY too optimistic). We’ll all find out within the next 8 months (before next summer).

    Kman wrote: “38 mpg. Big Deal! My 2001 Ford Focus with a regular little 4 banger averages 35 mpg.” Does your 2001 Focus average 35 mpg with exclusively *city* driving? That’s the “big deal.” The article does not state either the new cars’ estimated highway or average mpg.

    hybridman: I hope they allow you to turn off the “mileage coach.” I could see its benefit for the first month or two, to help you understand how to exploit the hybrid tech, but after that, there are times I’m in a hurry and I don’t want a “virtual mother” to keep nagging me to slow down. LOL!

  • Shines

    Thanks John K and Steved28 for your responses. I agree.
    I updated my profile with my image being a portion of the Fusion grill modified the way I think it should be (yep – everyone’s an artist :-D )
    But I don’t see anyones images on this forum…
    Is there some setting I need to change or does the moderator need to change something so we can see each other’s thumbnails?

  • steved28

    “Okay Steve, how many Focus’ do you own. The 35 mpg is average. gets better on highway.”

    Which is great, good for you. But my point is that if YOU can get 35mpg from a car that the EPA says averages 28.5, then YOU can get 50mpg from a car that the EPA says will get 38. Like it or not, EPA estimates are all we have to truly compare mpg. Everything else is antecdotal.

    Now I’ll ask you “How many hybrids do you own?”

    I went from 18 to 42mpg, “why own a hybrid?” Ya, I guess I don’t save any money. Your comments about my reasoning to sleep better at night are borderline insane. You obviously have some ax to grind.

  • Jerry

    ICE Focus vs Hybrid Fusion
    For the 10s of thousands of cars that are rolling in traffic everyday I would imagine the air quaility would be far better with the fusion hybrid than the 38MPG fusion. The hybrid will ultimately be a better way to go for people that are tooling around near the city. With the four other in my car pool I would rather have the Fusion than the focus.

  • Jerry

    opps!
    38mpg Focus not fusion

  • dfschim

    I own a Focus ZX3 with an automatic and I get 22-24 mpg city with the heavy traffic, the gasohol that is required here and the A/C running. I have gotten 33 mpg when I was driving on a cool day on a flat highway at a steady 60 mph with good gas.

    First, this hybrid is going to have an automatic, which is the only transmission I would consider with all the city driving I do. Second it is a Fusion/Milan and not a Focus, so it will have a bigger back seat. Third it will have 200 combined HP compared to the Focus with only 130 HP, so it will be able to do 0-60 in 8 seconds. That is the same as my old Dodge Daytona Turbo, my Focus can not keep up with that.

    Steve is right, the only way to compare the mileage of 2 cars is use the EPA numbers, or drive one of them following the other.

    I agree with everyone who said the Fusion grille is ugly. I plan to replace my Focus with a Milan hybrid, the only thing I will miss is the hatchback. And yes I intend to get a silver one, because even the Milan has too much chrome to look good in a dark color.

  • Landon

    dude, um thats a terrible reason to not buy a Fusion, grilles certainly aren’t permanent and you could buy one thats black or something

  • GaryG

    I read another article that stated the new 2010 Fusion Hybrid could go up to eight miles also, but in the Ford press release there was no mention. Wayne Gerdes says this is not possible and I tend to agree.

    At any rate I’m ordering a fully loaded 502A option package FFH in place of a 2010 Prius. The ordering guides are out and you can order one now! I’m averaging over 45mpg tanks with E-10 in my ’09 FEH and the FFH has a new more efficient eCVT.

  • Andrew DeNardo

    Depending on your drive this vehicle could give you tremendously better mileage than rated. The question is will the electric engine engage without a warm combustion engine, as is not the case in current Ford hybrids. What we really need and I believe feasible, is a plug-in hybrid that will go 30-40 or more miles up to 50 mph on electric power. A switch to electric only mode that is overridden only by battery depletion will help. I currently drive a Ford escape hybrid 4wd and get 30 – 33 mpg combined avg, tire pressure around 48 psi.

  • William T.

    Owlafaye, you said “155 HP? 2.5 liter engine (2500cc) They aren’t fooling me. You will be lucky to average 30 mpg and lets hope the accessories, acceleration and luxury are what you really wanted because that is what these cars are geared towards.”

    I have a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid (2.3 liter I-4, 133 HP) and ALWAYS get >30 mpg, usually close to 33 mpg. This is with mostly highway driving (about 70mph) which is where hybrids tend to do worse on mileage. It has all the accessories and is not as small as the Fusion. That car will certainly get more than 30 mpg. The key is the Atkinson cycle engine. It is more efficient than the Otto cycle that most gasoline engine operate in.

  • AD

    I would say if they put computer alone on all cars showing gas mileage and coach, and tire pressure monitors, gas mileage would probably increase 10% alone.

  • GaryG

    The driver will always make the difference in what kind of mileage the vehicle gets. For instance the TCH is rated 33/34mpg and there are people who will average 24mpg and people who can average 42mpg in the TCH. The people getting 24mpg drive very aggressively and complain about their vehicle’s MPG while the people driving smart can average around the EPA ratings. There are limits what the worst and best mileage a driver will get, but the worst drivers tend to complain because they think it’s the vehicle’s EPA ratings that are wrong.

    There are many Mileage Data Bases where people log their type vehicles and the mileage they get. The problem is the worst drivers don’t enter their data and the better drivers do. This is one reason why I have not logged my ’05 FEH’s mileage in the past in a mileage data base.

    It is my opinion the new Fusion Hybrid will easily get EPA rated mileage from a good average driver. Based on my knowledge of the 2.5L engine and the new electrical system, I think a driver like myself could average 55mpg Tanks in the new FFH. I also think the new FFH will be capable of 80mpg at the MPG Challenge in July ’09. The ’09 FEH with the new 2.5L engine should hit 70mpg in that 27 mile trip in the MPG Challenge also.

  • smlcap

    Great!….Hat’s off to Ford. Ford has finally seen the future, the future is now. I hope the other 2 Detroit companys wake up and smell the coffee. Ford is building a nice stable of hybrid/alt energy vehicles.