Ford makes history with E85 Hybrids

From Ford:

* 20 Hybrid Electric Flexible Fuel Vehicles will be delivered to fleet customers in six states.* Ford is the first to introduce a hybrid capable of running on E85, a domestically produced renewable fuel.* The Escape Hybrid Flexible Fuel Vehicle produces 25 percent fewer CO2 emissions than the traditional Escape.
v * This is one example of Ford’s efforts to address the twin challenges of energy security and climate change.
esc Ford makes history with E85 Hybrids Alternative Fuels Automobiles and Energy Ethanol Ford Fuel economy Hybrids Manufacturers Podcasts Technology

FORD ESCAPE HYBRID E85: ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY: Sustainable Union
WASHINGTON , D.C., June 13 – After months of rigorous testing, Ford Motor Company’s demonstration fleet of ethanol-fueled hybrids is ready to conquer the streets. The first three of Ford’s E85 Escape Hybrids were delivered today to the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Governors Ethanol Coalition (GEC).

A total of 20 Ford E85 Escape Hybrids will be delivered to select fleet customers in six states, staking Ford’s claim to another important industry first. These are the world’s first hybrid vehicles capable of operating on blends of fuel containing as much as 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from American-grown corn or sugar beets.

“As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

“Investing in ethanol is critical for our national security, our environment, and for Michigans economy,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). “We can make huge strides by combining a massive effort on ethanol with other technologies such as hybrid cars and advanced diesel technologies. Ford is leading the way by producing the first hybrid car that can run on E85. I hope the E85 Ford Escape Hybrid is the first of many flex fuel hybrids driving us toward energy independence.”

“We can and should do more to reduce pollution from vehicles,” said U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO). “Ford today is showing it’s leadership in clean and efficient vehicles with a first-ever hybrid SUV that will also run on bio-fuels. Their decision to assemble it in Kansas City is good news for the able automotive workers in Missouri.”

The E85 Escape Hybrid produces about 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline-fueled Escape Hybrid. It also runs on a completely renewable fuel, which can help reduce this nation’s dependence on imported oil.

If all of the more than six million flexible fuel vehicles now on America’s highways operated on E85, more than 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline could be displaced a year. For it’s part, Ford has committed to making half of it’s annual vehicle production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012.

“The Governors Ethanol Coalition has worked cooperatively with Ford for more than two decades,” Nebraska Governor and Coalition Chair Dave Heineman said. “As Ford has developed new transportation technologies, we have been among the first to volunteer to provide Ford with real world testing of their products. We are pleased to work with a storied American vehicle manufacturer as the nation reduces it’s need for imported oil.”

“I commend Ford for stepping up to the plate on this issue,” said Bob Dinneen, president of the RFA, the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry. “Americans are fed up with the screaming roller coaster ride of gasoline prices. Ethanol isnt the silver bullet, but having it available will ultimately keep gasoline prices lower than they would otherwise be.”

A major challenge in the promotion of renewable fuel use is availability of infrastructure. Less than 1 percent of the 170,000 retail gas stations in the country carry E85 ethanol. Expanding the availability of E85 is a critical element in moving America toward energy independence.

“For ethanol to be a real player in the transportation sector and lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil, we need a strong, long-term focus on policies that increase U.S. ethanol production and accelerate E85 infrastructure development,” said Cischke. “We also need key partners like the oil industry to invest in developing and marketing renewable fuels, like E85. Without the whole-hearted involvement of the oil industry, we cannot move forward far enough or fast enough.”

More to Learn

The Escape Hybrid E85 research project is a learning lab for Ford’s FFV programs for 2010 and beyond. Tailpipe emissions of flexible-fuel vehicles still represent one of the biggest challenges and priorities.

Currently, no manufacturer’s FFV has been certified as a partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV). And a full-hybrid application presents even more evaporative challenges because the vehicle operates on electric power alone without actuating the evaporative vacuum system that operates when the gas engine is in use.

“Although we currently do not have plans to produce the Escape Hybrid E85, the research from this technology could lead to breakthroughs in even more advanced technologies,” said Cischke.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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