Ford Motor Company is rolling out a range of global environmental technologies that will provide customers more fuel-efficient vehicles that emit fewer greenhouse gases without compromising their expectations for safety, interior room or performance, Alan Mulally, the company’s president and chief executive officer, announced November 14.

“Ford is committed to offering customers affordable, environmentally friendly technologies in vehicles they really want,” Mulally said at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “We are focusing on sustainable technology solutions that can be used not for hundreds or thousands of cars – but for millions of cars, because that is how Ford can truly make a difference.”

Climate Change
Ford recognizes climate change is a significant global challenge that must be addressed by a range of stakeholders. For the automotive industry, this includes the vehicle manufacturers, the fuel industry, governments and consumers.

To do its part, Ford is pursuing multiple technological paths and working with partners to find new, more meaningful solutions that are affordable for customers and in line with Ford’s plans to create safer, more fuel-efficient, quality products customers desire and value.

Ford developed modeling tools to map its future sustainability goals. They are helping the company to determine which technology solutions are viable over time by balancing customer wants, cost and environmental needs. The analysis will guide Ford’s fuel economy plan through 2020.

Some of the improvements to boost fuel economy already are on the road in today’s vehicles, while Ford continues to innovate for the future. For example: Ford is eliminating energy waste in every vehicle system, such as power steering, cooling and electrical systems, as well as minimizing wind drag through design and optimizing its new 6-speed transmissions. All of these innovations are benefiting customers today, particularly in fuel economy. Specifically:

  • The Ford F-250 Super Duty team has been able to increase fuel efficiency of today’s vehicle by more than 1 mpg by reducing aerodynamic drag and optimizing gearing.
  • A new 3.5-liter V-6, improved 6-speed transmission and aero changes helped the Taurus achieve a 10 percent highway fuel gain. The Focus increased 3 percent thanks to a series of other improvements, which include aero and electrical efficiencies.
  • In the 2008 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, the addition of electric power assisted steering and improved vehicle aerodynamics contributed to an 8 percent fuel economy improvement on the gasoline and a 14 percent gain on the hybrid.
  • The introduction of Ford’s dual-clutch PowerShift transmission to Europe’s Ford Focus 2.0-liter Duratorq TDCi diesel contributed to a 10 percent fuel-economy gain.
  • New 6-speed automatic transmissions, combined with other actions, in the new Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy in Europe, have delivered a 2 to 3 percent fuel improvement.

Ford says the push will continue. The company will quickly introduce technologies to further eliminate energy waste in vehicle systems by improving powertrain warm-up time, using vehicle control technologies like aggressive fuel shutoff during vehicle deceleration, and reducing engine workload through better battery recharging systems.

“While we are implementing our near-, mid- and long-term plans, we are continuing to achieve efficiencies throughout the vehicle in areas that can quickly lead to fuel economy improvements today,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development. “We continue to make improvements in what we call the ‘1 percent’ areas – items such as reducing wind drag, eliminating engine-driven power steering pumps and switching to low-friction engine oil. Collectively, these small improvements deliver significant fuel economy gains for our customers.”

Delivering the numbers
The cornerstone of Ford’s near-term plan is a new generation of smaller-displacement turbo-charged gasoline engines with advanced fuel-saving direct injection technologies. The new family of engines will provide customers with a fuel savings of between 10 to 20 percent without compromising performance.

With direct injection, fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber in small, precise amounts. When this is combined with turbo charging, customers will enjoy better performance and fewer trips to the gas pump.

During the next five years, Ford expects to introduce a range of gasoline turbo-charged direct injection engines in 4-cylinder and V-6 configuration in a significant number of vehicles globally. Ford will provide more details about its aggressive plans for this technology in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“Our first application will be in the new Lincoln MKS less than a year after launch. It will deliver the power and torque of a V-8 engine with the fuel efficiency of a V-6,” said Kuzak. “The beauty of gasoline direct injection is that it enables us to both downsize and boost the power of our engines to deliver the performance our customers want, as well as the fuel economy they need.”

Technology Enablers: In addition to this family of new gasoline turbo-charged direct injection engines – and as part of the company’s near- and mid-term plans – Ford will introduce a portfolio of technologies to achieve even greater fuel savings and emissions reductions. They include:

  • A new generation of fuel-saving twin-clutch transmissions, which deliver the fuel economy of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. These new transmissions include greater use of 6-speeds to replace less-efficient 4- and 5-speed gearboxes.
  • The use of advanced electric power assisted steering systems in between 80 and 90 percent of Ford vehicles.
  • Aerodynamic improvements through better design and wind tunnel optimization.
  • Weight reductions through platform efficiencies and greater use of aluminum and high-strength steel.

“These actions will require reengineering and redesigning our vehicles,” said Kuzak. “To apply the range of technologies across our fleet and in our plants will require a significant financial investment, which we are committed to make.”

The fuel savings will grow during the mid-term – between 2012 and 2020 – as weight reductions become a critical focus of Ford’s plan. Targeted vehicle weight reductions will range from 250 to 750 pounds, depending on the segment – without compromising safety.

“Substantial vehicle weight reductions will enable us to use smaller displacement engines that provide secondary efficiencies, such as lighter chassis and suspension components. They, in turn, lower vehicle weight even further,” Mulally said. “The best part? We can do this for millions of customers in high quality products they want and value, without compromising their expectations of Ford vehicles’ safety, quality, interior room or performance.”

Bio-Fuels: Ford’s commitment to sustainability and reduced dependence on fossil fuels means the company will continue to deliver products capable of running on renewable fuels such as bio-diesel and ethanol. Ford has more than five million flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) on the roads today globally. In the U.S., Ford has pledged to make half of its production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012, provided the necessary fuel and infrastructure are in place.

Ford currently offers a total of 14 flexible fuel vehicle models in various markets globally. Ford also continues to support the development of cellulosic biofuels, which in the long term promise up to 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In Europe, Ford is a FFV market leader and FFV market pioneer. Focus and C-MAX Flexifuel are currently available. From early 2008, the new Mondeo, the S-MAX and the Galaxy will be available as Flexifuel versions. Through this, Ford will offer one of the broadest FFV portfolios in Europe. Ford currently sells Flexifuel models in 16 markets and plans to have an FFV derivative available for every car in its line-up, introduced in a cadence determined by new model launch timing.

In Brazil, FFVs account for 72 percent of Ford’s volume. The success with FFVs was achieved through a central energy policy and collaboration among agriculture, fuel providers, automakers and the government.

In Asia Pacific, Ford is leading in the introduction of flexible fuel vehicles, particularly in early-adopting markets, such as Thailand and the Philippines.

Clean Diesels: Ford’s sustainability plan calls for adding more diesel engines to more products in more markets. By the end of the decade, Ford’s large sport utility vehicles and best-selling F-150 will be available with a new mid-displacement clean diesel engine.

In Europe, Ford soon will begin rolling out its ECOnetic range of ultra-low CO2 models that cleverly use affordable, conventional technology to deliver superb CO2 performance and fuel economy. The first vehicle will be the Ford Focus ECOnetic, followed by ECOnetic versions of the Mondeo and Ford’s all new B-car in 2008.

These vehicles will sit alongside Ford’s standard range of clean diesel engines in Europe that use advanced technology to deliver extremely competitive CO2 levels. The new Mondeo 1.8-litre TDCi, for example, has significantly better performance and fuel economy and produces approximately 20 percent less CO2 than the equivalent 1993 Mondeo.

In Asia Pacific, Ford recently launched the Focus TDCi diesel in Thailand and the Philippines.

Hybrid Electric Systems: Ford is now in its fourth year producing the world’s most fuel-efficient SUV – the Escape Hybrid. The company has three hybrids on the road: the Escape, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid.

Ford’s blueprint for sustainability will build upon the company’s expertise in hybrid technology. Two new hybrid sedans – the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid – will go into production later in 2008.

Moving forward, Ford plans to deploy different levels of hybridization with either diesel or gasoline engines – depending on the market and vehicle type. In Europe, for example, Ford established in 2006 the European Hybrid Technologies Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, which will have overall responsibility for the application of hybrid systems into Volvo cars globally and ensure that Ford of Europe is able to apply core hybrid systems into its products.

Ford Plug-in Hybrids: Ford’s sustainability plan also calls for aggressive development of breakthrough technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles to ramp up to greater volumes once the technology challenges can be overcome.

In December, Ford will deliver the first Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-in to its partner Southern California Edison as part of a partnership to explore the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and the business models that might make them viable. The partnership is designed to advance plug-in technology as well as an energy vision that connects transportation to the energy grid.

Hydrogen Power: Ford is moving ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously, including hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Ford began working on hydrogen technology in the early 1990s. Ford’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, released in 2001, was used to develop its first hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

Ford currently has a fleet of 30 hydrogen-powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to conduct real-world testing of fuel cell technology. The fleet has accumulated more than 600,000 miles (965,000 kilometers) since its inception. With this fleet on the road, significant information that will be integrated into future fuel cell vehicle propulsion systems is being generated in different local environmental conditions.

In addition, Ford has 24 hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine shuttle buses in cities across the United States and Canada. This fleet of hydrogen internal combustion engine shuttle buses is providing valuable real-world experience to assist in the research and production of next-generation hydrogen internal combustion engines.

“Ford’s blueprint for sustainability will deliver products that our customers want, that are affordable and that are good for the environment,” Mulally said.