Ford's Edgy Electric

Jan. 22, 2007: The New York Times—Ford Shows a Hybrid Car With 2 Modes: Electric or Electric

Summary: "Move over, gas-electric hybrid. Ford has a new entry, the electric-electric hybrid.

The vehicle, based on a Ford Edge crossover, runs on electricity from a battery, charged either from a standard wall socket or from an on-board fuel cell. It has two highly visible fueling ports, both on the driver’s side of the vehicle. One is a hose coupling for hydrogen gas, and the other is an electric connection like the one on a leaf blower, ready for a standard three-prong extension cord."

No engine noise in this demonstration vehicle—just the sound of the tires slapping pavement and the fuel cell’s air compressor. But the price of this silent ride might be a little steep just yet. At around $2 million, the car is more science experiment than showroom ready.

Besides the lack of fueling options and the very real problem that it takes so much energy to produce and store H2, the author also mentions that the hydrogen tank is seven times bulkier than a gasoline tank containing the same amount of energy. Although it may change in a few decades, hydrogen doesn’t yet make sense.

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  • Tony

    . . . is not to have a production-ready vehicle right out of the gate. What is important is to be able to demonstrate the ability to have a completely electric-drive vehicle with more than one power source. In this case, primary power comes from a battery and secondary power comes from a H2 fuel cell. Once you have a platform that works in this mode, you have flexibility to swap out or add power sources. Instead of a fuel cell, backup power could come from a gasoline (or ethanol or natural gas or any other fuel) engine, from a solar array, from some kind of not yet conceived system allowing power to be transferred from distribution lines above or beneath a roadway to appropriately equipped vehicles, or for that matter from built-in stationary bicycles pedaled by the kids during road trips. Or any combination of the above.

    Personally, I would not be a bit surprised to someday see a battery powered vehicle with optional plug-in secondary power sources. If you’re commuting, for example, but can’t make a round trip on the built-in battery range, you might plug in an extra battery pack. If you’re going on a longer trip, you remove the extra batteries and replace them with a small engine capable of recharging the built-in batteries as quickly as you can deplete them. In the more distant future, your state may sell, lease, or give for free with subscription, a device that will allow you to draw power from some kind of futuristic electrified roadway as you’re driving, much like a subway car draws it’s power from the third rail. Live in Florida or Arizona? Buy the optional solar module that mounts to outside surfaces of the vehicle and charges your battery while you drive or are parked for the day at work.

    The bottom line is that just because we can’t (nor would we want to) buy Ford’s new plug-in HEV as a replacement for our existing cars does not mean that it has no value.

  • Aaron

    Gee, Ford with its staggering USD$12.7 Billion loss? I don’t think Ford is going anywhere for a while.

    Just a publicity thing: “People love this idea, then they will love Ford. Maybe we can hook them into buying an F-150 or Explorer instead”