We just got back from Chicago Auto Show where we presented the inaugural Hermance Vehicle Efficiency Award. The winner was the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which took the prize for its use of a sophisticated hybrid powertrain in a highly competitive and appealing package. The Hermance Award judging committee, comprising a who’s who of leading automotive efficiency experts, also selected the Fusion Hybrid for its solid positioning in the middle of the North American market and its promise of making high efficiency technology more broadly accessible to the public.
To back up its selection with a solid rationale, the Hermance Award committee published a compendium of short essays about the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, and the namesake of the award, the late Dave Hermance.
by John DeCicco
Excerpt: Though not wearing green on its sleeve, the Fusion was in fact a meaningful move in a subtly eco-conscious direction after years of emphasis on trucks. Having a great product in the middle of the market—just before the bigger-is-always-better trends of the 1990s came crashing down in the latter half of this past decade—gave Ford a solid footing on which to launch a hybrid version to take that technology into the mainstream.
By Lindsay Brooke
Excerpt: Control and calibration engineers are the unsung heroes of vehicle development. Their role is to create, tune, and set the complex digital algorithms that control the engine, transmission, and other key vehicle systems, and to make those systems continually “talk” to each other in milliseconds. When the control and calibration engineers excel in their tasks, as Ford’s team clearly did in developing the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, the resulting vehicles are seamless in operation. As perceived by the driver, they function as an integrated piece rather than a collection of separate parts.
This critical work requires a special focus and commitment. It consumes thousands of hours. As the production deadline looms, much of the engineers’ time is spent “in the saddle”-glued to laptop screens, poring over data, tapping in new code and making adjustments on the fly during long drives in the vehicle. The payoff is a new car or truck that meets or exceeds the customer’s performance and drivability expectations, while also complying with increasingly tough fuel economy and emissions targets.
By John German
Excerpt: You can’t just throw a lot of money at hardware and expect a hybrid vehicle to work properly. Hybrids gain their efficiency advantage from shutting off the engine at idle, capturing energy that would otherwise be lost to heat in the brakes, enabling engine downsizing by assisting with acceleration, and optimizing the operation of the engine. All of these features require careful calibration and integration of both the electric system and the engine. Even idle-off requires numerous calibration considerations. For example, the restart must be fast and smooth, the engine shut-off must not affect the deceleration rate of the vehicle, and the engine must remain running in cold weather while it is warming up.
By Robert Larsen
Excerpt: David Hermance was an extraordinary person. He was an outstanding engineer, an industrialist, an environmentalist, a visionary, and an articulate leader in an industry that often is misunderstood. Dave was passionately committed to making the world a better place, even if it meant running contrary to the prevailing conventional wisdom in the industry to which he devoted his entire career. Yet he was pragmatic and grounded in reality. He wanted to get things done—the right things—but he did not support actions based simply on ideology and wishful thinking, no matter how great the cause was.