Officials for Ford Motor Co. will unveil a new zero-emissions version of its Ford Focus at the New York International Auto Show later this month. The Focus FCV is powered by a combination of hybrid electric technology and a hydrogen fuel cell.
John Wallace, executive director of Ford's environmental TH!NK group, said the automaker expects to begin production of the vehicle in 2004. "This latest technology brings us one step closer to making fuel cell vehicles viable for consumers," Wallace said.
Ford's decision comes on the heels of Toyota Motor Corp.'s announcement earlier this month that it would begin marketing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle for commercial use next year. Japan's top automaker plans to start selling its environmentally friendly FCHV-4 in the Tokyo area by the summer of 2003.
Fuel cell cars run on energy produced in a chemical reaction combining hydrogen and oxygen, dramatically reducing air pollution.
Hybrid cars, like the Focus FCV, use a combination of electric power and fuel cells. Other hybrid cars in the works, including a version of the Ford Escape due out in 2003, use electrical power to boost the mileage of a gasoline-powered engine.
The prototype of Ford's new vehicle includes a 300-volt Sanyo battery pack and a brake-by-wire electrohydraulic series regenerative braking system and features an advanced hydrogen storage tank that can handle 5,000 pounds per square inch of hydrogen. Ford officials said the battery pack, regenerative braking system, and storage tank will result in a top speed of about 80 mph and a driving range of 160 to 200 miles.
The vehicle's fuel cell, a Ballard Mark 902 fuel cell system, is an energy-conversion device that converts chemical energy to electrical energy using hydrogen and oxygen. Heat and water are the only byproducts.
Jason Mark, clean vehicles program director, Union of Concerned Scientists, said hydrogen-powered fuel cells hold great promise for improving air quality and are superior to gasoline-powered hybrids.
A total of five Focus FCVs are expected to be produced this year for testing and demonstration in preparation for the start of production in 2004.
Written by: Bree Fowler
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