Can Ford rewire the brains of Californians to associate SUVs with environmental friendliness? Maybe (and maybe Governor Arnold will take a side job as a French chambermaid). Nonetheless, later this week at the Los Angeles auto show, Ford will show off a new fuel-cell powered SUV it hopes will strengthen its hand in the alternative energy baccarat game. It's the Explorer TDV-2, with electric all-wheel drive and a 350-mile range per hydrogen fill-up. The prototype's been driven 17,000 miles, including 1,556 miles in a 24-hour period (jeez, those hydrogen filling stations sure are far apart). It's the latest in Ford's hydrogen-fueled fleet that includes 30 fuel-cell Focus test models and an accountant named Ted who works in the company's debt-maintenance division.
Los Angeles, Nov. 27 - Ford Motor Company will raise the bar in the hydrogen fuel cell race today at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show when it unveils an all-new fuel cell powered Explorer that can travel 350 miles on a single fill-up, more than any fuel cell vehicle on the road.
The six-passenger fuel cell Explorer is one of several vehicles with green technology that Ford will have at the show, including the new 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid, the PZEV emissions compliant Ford Fusion and Ford Focus and the 2008 Ford F-Series Super Duty with Ford Clean Diesel Technology .
The fuel cell Explorer prototype is part of a series of vehicles partially funded by a contract with the United States Department of Energy. The goal of the Technology Demonstration Vehicle program is to find a pathway for a fuel alternative to petroleum that has less environmental impact than current powertrain technology.
"We believe hydrogen may become a viable motor fuel in the long-term," said Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Research & Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company. "With these technology demonstration vehicles, Ford continues to lead the way in the development of hydrogen technology."
Research into hydrogen, including the hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Ford Explorer, is part of Ford's overall effort to address the challenges of climate change and energy independence. Ford is moving ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously, including vehicles such as the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid, hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen internal combustion engines, ethanol, clean diesel and refinements to gasoline fueled engines and advanced transmissions. Some of the technology, such as that seen in Ford's lineup of hybrid vehicles, represents near-term approaches. Other technology, including hydrogen cell, must be viewed as a long-term option.
Fuel Cell Explorer
The first vehicle to be publicly unveiled from the Ford and DoE demonstration program is the fuel-cell-powered Ford Explorer. While it comes equipped with advanced electric all-wheel-drive like the production model from which it is based, a center-mounted hydrogen storage tank now occupies the space typically used for the 6-speed automatic transmission found in production Explorer models. Locating the hydrogen storage tank in this area allowed engineers to design a larger tank and deliver a never-before-achieved 350-mile driving range for a fuel cell vehicle. This unique design maintains Explorer's six-passenger seating arrangement and the cargo capacity found in the production Ford Explorer.
In less than one year, the fuel cell Explorer has accumulated more than 17,000 miles, including a world-record drive of 1556 miles in a single 24-hour period, the most of any fuel cell vehicle to date. The record was set by Ford engineers at the new Dearborn Development Center test facility in Dearborn, Mich.
In January, at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, Ford will unveil the next vehicle in this series of demonstration vehicles.
Hydrogen Part of a Broader Effort At Ford
Ford first began working on hydrogen technology in the early 1990s. Ford's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, released in 2001, was based on a lightweight aluminum sedan body, which also was used in the development of the company's first hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.
The company 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 300,000 miles since its inception. With this fleet on the ground, a great deal of information that can be integrated into future fuel cell vehicle propulsion systems is being generated in different local environmental conditions.
Having the fleet outside the confines of Ford Motor Company also has allowed the team to gain valuable feedback on servicing vehicles in the field. As a hydrogen infrastructure is developed and implemented for the fleet at each location, lessons learned are being generated to insure that the customer and hydrogen fueling interface is seamless and customer friendly.
TDV 2 Specifications
Weight 2560 kg
Hydrogen Storage 10 kg at 700 bar
Range 350 miles
Fuel Economy 35 mpg M-H
Power 60 kW Fuel Cell
Motor 130 kW (Dual 65 kW) Electric Motors
Batteries 50 kW hybrid battery