Special to Driveway
“Ford believes sharing its patented technologies will promote faster development of future inventions as all automakers look toward greater opportunities.”
Ford is opening its portfolio of electrified vehicle technology patents to competitive automakers to accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles.
In 2014, Ford filed for 400-plus electrified vehicle patents – more than 20 per cent of the total patents the company applied for last year
“Innovation is our goal,” said Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs. “The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.”
Ford Motor Company currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.
Ford believes sharing its patented technologies will promote faster development of future inventions as all automakers look toward greater opportunities.
“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other,” said Layden. “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.”
As part of Ford’s increased focus on new and innovative technologies, the automaker is set to hire an additional 200 electrified vehicle engineers this year as the team moves into a newly dedicated facility – Ford Engineering Laboratories – home to Henry Ford’s first labs in Dearborn.
“No quibble with the quality of the vehicle and the fuel efficiency but the sticker price does cause a sharp intake of breath…”
To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question faced by the well-heeled, nobler in mind kind of person, who is determined to go green with the next car purchase.
Forgive me for mashing up the words of my old expat mate Will Shakespeare, but reducing one’s carbon footprint is not easy on the pocket book in spite of the fuel savings on offer by “doing the right thing.” Whichever model you plump for from any of the leading hybrid manufacturers, you are going to pay a premium in the thousands over the equivalent standard gas-powered model. In pure economic terms, it will take years of fuel savings to bridge that investment gap.
If you go for a plug-in that offers emission free driving on electric power only for varying stretches of road, you are likely looking at a ten grand premium on top of the pure hybrid sticker price. (more…)
Hybrid vehicles have never been more affordable and certainly well worth consideration, if you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle…
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently equated hybrid vehicles to early amphibians that hopped out of the oceans, learned to survive on land and eventually disappeared.
Ironically, if the electric vehicle (EV) evolved in a similar way, Tesla (an exclusively EV company) wouldn’t exist right now and this would probably be in a vibrant Hybrid Age!
Despite the early birth of production EV, hybrid (HEV) and now plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales continue to rise, new models continue to arrive and at least three all-new PHEVs are expected later this year.
A HEV functions just like, or similar to, a conventional gas-engine vehicle from a driver/owner perspective. It consumes substantially less fuel, especially in an urban environment, and a regenerative braking system can greatly extend the life of brake friction pads.
A PHEV increases the energy saving, money saving, and greenhouse gas reducing advantages by tapping into an electrical source and pulling relatively inexpensive electrical power off the main grid. It then uses this energy to go further on electrical power alone. How far depends primarily on the capacity (size) of its storage battery, but also on the drive system, the terrain and weather conditions and how the PHEV is driven.
Lugging around a bigger battery obviously increases the weight of a PHEV and it takes up either passenger cabin or more likely trunk cargo space. The latest lithium-ion battery packs are lighter and more compact, but the space sacrifice is something that a prospective owner must be willing to live with.
Hybrid owner feedback is generally very positive and the fuel savings can be substantial. That said, you generally pay a premium for this technology, but that gap is rapidly narrowing. Last year, GM slashed $5,000 off the price of its popular Chevrolet Volt, the best selling PHEV on the market. While GM marketing promotes the Volt as an “extended range” electric vehicle, as its road wheels are always driven by an electric motor, it’s still classified as a PHEV. A small on-board gas engine generates electricity, when necessary.
The new Honda Accord Hybrid (a HEV) further blurs the differences between HEV and PHEV, as it uses the same two-motor powertrain used in the Accord Plug-in Hybrid (a PHEV edition that’s currently only sold in selected markets). At speeds under 80 km/h the road wheels are driven by an electric motor and its Atkinson cycle gas engine is only used to generate electrical power, when needed.
The current list price for an Accord EX-L is $29,455 and the Accord Hybrid starts at $29,590, which is only $135 more. The top-line Accord Touring V6 sells for $35,400 and the Touring edition of Accord Hybrid is $36,690, just an extra $290. The price differential is almost non-existent.
Choosing HEV or PHEV boils-down to whether an owner can take full advantage of the plug-in electrical storage feature and normal driving commutes are within the electric-only speed and distance range of the PHEV. A low-speed urban driving commute allowing the PHEV to be charged at home overnight and topped-up again while at work, during the day, would be an ideal scenario.
While the popularity of hybrid vehicles continues to grow, barring a sudden spike in the price of oil/gasoline, a meteoric rise in the popularity of alternatives to the old reliable gas engine vehicle is unlikely. Then again, who knows what the future, or the next twist in evolution, will bring. Hybrid vehicles have never been more affordable and certainly well worth consideration, if you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle.
Hybrids not only save on gasoline, they also save on maintenance, especially brake system repairs, and they typically come with longer drivetrain warranties…
There’s a new breed of hybrids hitting the streets that are closer in performance and price to their gasoline counterparts. (more…)