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Premium Member
7,893 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Is Ford the hybrid hybrid technology leader?

Ford's backing away from a collaborative effort with Toyota to develop hybrid powertrains for large RWD and AWD trucks and SUVs has major implications.

But as we look at the hybrid industry, Toyota with it's Prius, launched in 1997 in Japan, as we look at the fuel economy advancements Toyota was able to make over the past 12 years, or three generations of the Prius in the US, from 2001 to 2012, the Prius mpg went from 42/41 to 51/48.

That's only 9 city and 7 highway improvement in 12 years. Or on average just 3 city and 2 hwy from one generation to the next.

And when they used that same aging hybrid system for other vehicles, future generations either have no mpg improvement from initial launch, or declining mpg due to the need for stronger bodies, better quality interior materials, more soundproofing and more hp.

Take the Camry for example.....

The Camry Hybrid launched in 2007 offering the same hybrid synergy drive as the Prius, but at 33 city and 34 hwy and 34 combined, than a 'refreshed' version came in 2011 that offered less mpg at 31 city and 35 hwy and 33 combined. The drop in mpg is primarily due to the need to add better quality materials, more insulation, and more hp to the engine to compete in the US. Then in 2012 the refreshed Camry offered 43/39. A 12 mpg city and 4 mpg hwy or a 16 mpg improvement over the previous gen.

Looking at the mpg increase, it is oddly similar to the mpg increase when the prius liftback moved from 1st generation to the 3rd generation we have today. And based on Toyotas consistency with using older technology for 10+ years, this may well be the case to explain the very similar mpg increase.

But what about the trucks?

Toyota offered the Highlander Hybrid using the same hybrid synergy drive of the Prius in 2006 at 28 city and 25 hwy. The next gen/refreshed version came in 2007 that offered the same engine and same 28 city and 25 hwy. Now a new 2014 'refreshed' version is launched with the exact same engine and hybrid drive train, with expected same 28 city and 25 hwy mpg. Zero improvement. about a smaller platform....

With the drop in mpg with the Camry, Toyota's next move was to put the system in smaller platforms in an effort to obtain better mpg. Obviously, smaller body, less weight should offer better mpg, without any technology advancement.

So what did Toyota do, in 2012 Toyota put the same hybrid system in the larger Prius v and mpg dropped from 51/48 to 44 city and 40 hwy. Hey, we just lost 7 city and 4 hwy. That's still going in the wrong direction when we are taking about mpg improvements.

Time to go even smaller....

This time Toyota went to an even smaller platform than the initial Prius lift back with the Prius c and got 53 city and 50 hwy. But to do so they also had to go from a 1.8L engine to a 1.5L and drop the hp from 98 to a tiny 74hp engine and only 99hp combined. Which means if you have no passengers and live in a flat area with very long freeway on-ramps, you are fine.


What seems to be happening with Toyota and their hybrid system, is the same issue with their engines and transmissions. The concept of reliability with Toyota is tied to the lack of innovation. They recycle the same hybrid system, engines and transmissions through many generations and models of vehicles, to where what they are offering at their core is obsolete in the industry before they choose to invest in new technology. Even the models are not new, they are only 'refreshed' shells on top of multi-generational components and platforms.

For example: It's 2013 and Toyota is still offering a 4-speed transmission in the 2014 Corolla and 2013 Yaris from 1984. The 2014 'refreshed' Highlander will come with a 5-speed transmission from 2003. All hybrid models from Toyota come with the synergy drive from Japan in 1997, and launched in the US in 2001. Each with a few tweeks, but the core technology is all 10+ years old.

Which is also why when Toyota has a recall, it's multi-generational and across multiple vehicle models and Toyota brands.

Now looking at Ford...

Ford offered the Escape Hybrid in 2005 based on the essentially same hybrid drive system as Toyota with 30 city and 28 hwy. Then in 2008 the next generation requiring more power offered a lower 29 city and 27 hwy. Not so good.

Then Ford offered the Fusion Hybrid, based on a heavily modified version of the same hybrid drive system, which became Fords Power Split Hybrid Drive in 2010, with 41 city and 36 hwy. Which offered 10 more city and 1 more hwy than the Camry Hybrid of 2011, which was still using Toyotas older hybrid system.

This was the turning point it seems for Ford and when it became clear that Toyota was only the sales leader in hybrid vehicles because of packaging. They installed it in a small, lightweight, low power car and sold heavily in their closed home market, Japan, and with backing from their government. Then offered to small car to the US. But there really was no technology leadership, just packaging and marketing older technology.

But Ford focused on becoming the hybrid innovation leader. Which is why the next gen Ford Fusion Hybrid in 2013 offered 47 city 47 hwy. Just 3 years after their first gen, with 6 mpg more city and 11 mpg more hwy.

From 2010 to 2013, that's a 17 mpg gain in 3 years. If you remember, it took Toyota 12 years for a 9 city, 7 hwy or 16 mpg gain in the Prius. That's 1 mpg gain less than Ford in just 3 years. And the Camry is moving backwards in mpg by 1 mpg from one gen to the next until 2013.

Ford has clearly not been given enough credit for the major accomplishment in hybrid technology in such a short time. And this is not even focusing on plug-in vehicles. It is entirely up to Ford to push their hybrid system into as many models as possible for more consumers can benefit from Ford's innovation.

Fusion Hybrid set to outsell the Camry Hybrid for 2013, and C-MAX Hybrids already outselling the Prius v hybrid. But if Ford want's to be the global sales leader of hybrid vehicles, we also need a Focus Hybrid and Fiesta Hybrid, along with Escape and Explorer Hybrids as well. Hybrid drivetrain options for all Ford vehicles in the Super Segment. And the same for Lincoln vehicles also. If Toyota can teach Ford anything, it is the packaging and marketing of their hybrid drivetrains.

So it seems a collaboration between Ford and Toyota as it relates to hybrid drive systems in general, would not benefit Ford, but only Toyota. Which is why it makes sense that Ford pushed back from the deal early, and focused on investing more dollars in battery testing and the hiring of 300 more engineers.

Mercury C557
22,734 Posts
excellent OpEd, Blogging

...Ford has clearly not been given enough credit for the major accomplishment in hybrid technology in such a short time. And this is not even focusing on plug-in vehicles. It is entirely up to Ford to push their hybrid system into as many models as possible for more consumers can benefit from Ford's innovation...

I'd like to 2nd-focus the topic on the Product Planning side of marketing too:

• We know that Ford had artificial constraints on their battery supply when they got them from Toyota's keiretsu (monopoly/mafia), barely having enough for 2 models;
HOW's the supply now??
COULD Fomoco do more? Are they merely limited by "poverty-habits" from the past?

• Has Fomoco been guilty of a same Kind of mistake that GM made with the Volt? (imho!!)
...building what HAD TO BE a high priced vehicle in their CHEAPEST Brand - - this pertaining to the FocusElectric as well as ALL their plug-ins so far
• Imho this is where the temporary lack of Mercury is confounding them - forcing them to choose between base and Lux for electrification Leader
(of course GM has no such excuse - Theirs is intact fiefdoms, specifically ChevyTyranny)
• Imho2, 'FLincMoCo' needs to bite *a* bullet asap [& Merc is out for this decade imho so:]
they MUST turn their EYElectrodes to Lincoln-primogeniture, At Least, for any higher-price alternative drivetrains
(WHO will build the first Tesla S killer??)
(WHO will invent the next Eicon??)
• crossreference: the BMW i3's most-minimal range-extender PLUS class-leading battery -- is that the wave of the near future?

Premium Member
7,893 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Exactly.....Lincoln needs a 200+EV range MKS, and Ford needs a 200+ EV range Fusion.

But here is the rub. Charging time. At 240v it would take 8 hours for 200 miles. With Combo Charger it would still take about 60 minutes for 200 miles. But this is more because of the slow 6.6kWh onboard charger. But upgrading to the 10kWh and duel onboard chargers like Tesla for any EV with over 150+ EV miles, would bring the charging time back down to about 20 min for 200 EV miles.

So for Ford to launch a 200 EV mile EV, they also need to upgrade the onboard charger to at least to a single 10kWh and offer the dual system as an option as Tesla does.

Also, look at what Tesla is doing with the SuperCharging stations along freeways throughout the nation. Soon its not going to be just for Tesla vehicles, but for other brands at a fee. It looks like Tesla is quickly and quietly becoming the Shell of EV SuperCharging. Because Tesla knows that EV owners do over 80% charging at home, and will really only use public charging when traveling long distance over their 200+ range before heading home. Which is why Tesla is not putting charging stations in city centers, but only along the freeways.

All while the EV adopters are crying for more charging stations at the grocery store, which will cost them twice for the same electricity at home. :facepalm:

Mercury C557
22,734 Posts
^ well, imho the Ford Brand does NOT need the same drivetrains as Lincoln

(( ideally/theoretically, I'd limit the Ford Brand's electrification to 'regular' hybrids-only, Mercury would be ALL hybrids PLUS plug-ins, and Lincoln would be limited to EVs with-or-without range extenders(ie plug-ins) ))

...Also, look at what Tesla is doing with the SuperCharging stations along freeways throughout the nation...
wonder if Tesla could turn out to be an 'electrofuel' company that *happens* to make some cars?
imho Lux E-owners don't need 'stations' for transcontinental distances but DO for hub/resort trips (like SF>Tahoe, LA>Vegas, etc ...I welcome other examples from out of my area)
so maybe a 300 mile range would be ample near-term? and Tesla's current ranges (upto 250 realworld) are actually on-target for Today?

I've spoken with a couple Fisker owners but not Tesla so far
and heard stories about how they manage/trick their range into getting over "The Hill"
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