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<BIG style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">Ford Says Series Hybrids (Chevy Volt) Are a Mistake</BIG>

The Ford Motor Company is not going to chase GM and do a plug-in series hybrid like the Volt. In fact, the Blue Oval thinks that approach is a mistake. Instead, Ford is taking a three-pronged attack to developing hybrid and electric vehicles, with one technology building upon the other.

And by the way, Ford, like most other automakers, is putting fuel cell technology on the back burner. Until a hydrogen infrastructure for automobiles is put in place, there isn't much sense in developing cars that run on hydrogen, especially when that hydrogen infrastructure is many years and many billions of dollars away.

Ford's approach is to develop strong hybrids, which it already has in the market (Fusion, Milan, Escape, Mariner), followed by plug-in hybrids, followed by electric vehicles. In two years time it will have each of those kinds of vehicles in its showrooms.

When it comes to plug-ins Ford prefers to go with a parallel hybrid, where the engine is still mechanically connected to the wheels. This differs from a series hybrid, like the Chevy Volt, where the engine is only used to recharge the batteries and is not connected to the wheels.

Ford prefers a parallel hybrid because it claims such a system is smaller, cheaper and better. I just had the chance to drive Ford's plug-in Escape that uses a parallel system, and it's interesting to see how it differs from the Volt. It offers up to a 30-mile range in pure EV mode and it will stay in that all-electric mode up to 40 miles an hour. At any speed over 40 mph the engine comes on, but that's typically at cruising speeds where the engine is most efficient.

In most strong hybrids you have to go very easy on the accelerator pedal to keep it in EV mode. But with the plug-in Escape, you can accelerate at a relatively brisk rate without getting the engine to kick in. Of course, if you really put your foot into it the engine will come on.

With the Volt you get up to a 40-mile range in pure EV mode, and you can drive it up to its top speed or accelerate as hard as you want without getting the engine to come on. But once you hit that 40-mile mark, or if the batteries hit 50% discharge, the engine comes on and stays on until you stop, plug-in and recharge.

stay in EV mode for 40 miles Ford says that a series hybrid system like the Volt needs a bigger battery pack. That means more mass and packaging space and since they use lithium-ion batteries, significantly more cost. A parallel hybrid, since it relies on the engine to do the heaviest work, can get by with a smaller battery pack, hence at lower cost.

I also had the chance to drive Ford's electric Focus and came away quite impressed. Though it still needs a few minor calibration tweaks, this car already performs admirably even though it won't be in production for another two years. It accelerates briskly from a standstill, yet still has enough get-up-and-go at 50 mph to accelerate and pass other cars. In fact, I'd say it's almost ready to go in the showrooms right now except for one thing: the cost.

To get a 100-mile range in an EV, which is what most automakers seem to be shooting for, requires a big battery pack. In the case of the Focus EV the cost of the li-on batteries is close to $30,000 at today's prices.

There are quite a few lithium-ion battery companies gearing up for production and the volume is going to ramp up fairly quickly. But unless or until the price of these batteries comes down significantly it's hard to see how these cars will be anything but a very small niche in the marketplace, whether they're series or parallel or pure EV.

Continued...
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I thought Ford had teamed with Magna to develop its own Volt faster than GM? I agree with Ford that this is a huge Gamble by GM, the problem is, if there is an upside to it, its going to be huge, with GM way ahead in technology and know-how…

We will see how it plays out over the next few years. GM had the same stand with the Prius.
 

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I thought Ford had teamed with Magna to develop its own Volt faster than GM? I agree with Ford that this is a huge Gamble by GM, the problem is, if there is an upside to it, its going to be huge, with GM way ahead in technology and know-how…

We will see how it plays out over the next few years. GM had the same stand with the Prius.
I don't see it that way at all. I think Ford, or even Toyota for that matter, could easily convert their hybrid systems to work like the Volt's. Remember that GM is way behind in hybrid development right now and is banking on this to be the next great thing. However I don't see how it could be. I recently read in C&D that the Volt's gas motor does NOT charge the battery when it comes on, but rather runs solely to power the electric motor. That makes no sense to me because once you're running on gas you stay on gas until you find a plug. Call me crazy, but doesn't it seem stupid to fire a gas engine to power an electronic motor? Wouldn't it be more efficient to let the gas motor drive the wheels when needed like the Ford and Toyota systems do? The Volt seems to be a car for a small group of people who only drive a few miles a day to and from work. I just don't get it. Maybe if it were some sort of performance car you would want to baby I'd get the limited uses for it, but not for a family car as they claim it to be.
 

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Don't know how many people have my needs:
- usual = short distances/upto 30 miles roundtrip, moderate traffic but Not ALL stop'n'go, with some 50mph+
- occasional = roadtrips, 100-500miles oneway, most miles at 60mph+ (as much + as possible ;))
-very rarely = major trip over 1000 miles one way

no idea whether serial or parallel will work best for me
but
I've wondered why no mfg seems to be trying a removeable generator engine (gasoline) -- maybe one mounted in a ultralight mini-trailer that could also hold a few extra suitcases/stuff (not more!) -- which could be left at home InCity and just hooked up when wanted/needed


OOPS/forgot to say
IMHO
Ford is doing All they can to beat the Volt to market.
wonder if parallel is more a part of ^that than them really believing it's better
 

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The Spaminator
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I thought Ford had teamed with Magna to develop its own Volt faster than GM? I agree with Ford that this is a huge Gamble by GM, the problem is, if there is an upside to it, its going to be huge, with GM way ahead in technology and know-how…

We will see how it plays out over the next few years. GM had the same stand with the Prius.
I dont care who is first or not first...who makes money on it and who doesnt is more important to me.



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I don't see it that way at all. I think Ford, or even Toyota for that matter, could easily convert their hybrid systems to work like the Volt's. Remember that GM is way behind in hybrid development right now and is banking on this to be the next great thing. However I don't see how it could be. I recently read in C&D that the Volt's gas motor does NOT charge the battery when it comes on, but rather runs solely to power the electric motor. That makes no sense to me because once you're running on gas you stay on gas until you find a plug. Call me crazy, but doesn't it seem stupid to fire a gas engine to power an electronic motor? Wouldn't it be more efficient to let the gas motor drive the wheels when needed like the Ford and Toyota systems do? The Volt seems to be a car for a small group of people who only drive a few miles a day to and from work. I just don't get it. Maybe if it were some sort of performance car you would want to baby I'd get the limited uses for it, but not for a family car as they claim it to be.
I think you got it somewhat wrong, By 2011, GM will have two modes in cars, Diesels (they own 51% of V motori) second generation BAS systems... (think last gen prius type efficiency) and Volt.
And FYI, Volt is not just another hybrid arrangement.. and it does charge batteries as it runs its generator....

Remember folks who used to laugh at the small block, due to lack of VVT, Ford abadoned the OHV designs for their V8... Today a Corvette small block with VVTi, fuel injection etc, output is a cool 436 HP with some 400 lbs of TQ. GM could easily win any horsepower war without significant increase in cost compared to other manafacturers.

BAS looks sad, but, like anything else, its going to pay off for GM.. that is why I would not be too quick to ditch the volt...

I do not like little Fueds between North American companies, All I would say is, the volt could flop or it could be huge.. we will see...
 

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I would end up discussing fuel economy if I had a Volt. While it would work for driving to and from work (total commute of 18 miles) anything like a trip to Norfolk or Virginia Beach would put me on the gas motor.

I won't be worrying about it too much, either, as I will not be able to afford a Volt. Indeed, I can see myself driving my Passat at least until it is paid off, unless something real interesting happens.
 
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