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Mercury C557
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Climbing through the Catskills in a 2014 Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, a writer retraces the friendship between Henry Ford and naturalist John Burroughs. - My Ford Magazine

By Seth Putnam
Photography by Jonathan Kane

...As I pilot the Fusion Energi southwest through the winding roads around the Pepacton Reservoir in the heart of Delaware County, I can’t help but think that Henry Ford himself might have a difficult time finding simple spare parts today. A century later, there’s a massive amount of computer technology packed into the 10 square feet around me. My smartphone is paired to SYNC®, and the formerly silent cabin is filled with grungy blues music, broken only by turn-by-turn navigation from a pleasant female voice, which I asked for directions to the hotel where I’ll be staying in Andes, N.Y. Available adaptive cruise control is using the vehicle’s sensors to help keep me two car lengths from any traffic ahead.** I know that if I did get too close, an alarm would beep-beep-beep at me, and a panel of red LEDs on the dashboard would light up the interior like a Roman candle. These are a couple of features, it seems, that could have come in handy for Burroughs and the back of his barn.

The next morning, I opt to charge the hybrid in an alternative manner—by plugging in. I head east to the Catskill Center, a hub for local sustainability-focused organizations, all of which are headquartered in a haunted house built in the 1700s. Thanks to being on a high knoll, it was one of the few buildings in town not to be washed away in a major flood. A man named Noah later owned the giant, ship-like house, and some say that’s how Arkville, N.Y., got its name.

Today, 60% of the center’s utilities are powered by a 33-panel solar array on top of a repurposed icehouse, which features a car charging station. I plug in the Fusion Energi using a 240-volt cord reminiscent of a gas pump’s, but with an electrical plug on the end. A similar 120-volt cord comes with the vehicle....

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