Ford Motor Co.'s rate of technology is being accelerated in order to enable its new Fusion to beat the Camry Hybrid of Toyota Motor Corp. once it goes on sale later this year, Ford revealed. The automaker now has 461 patents related to gasoline-electric systems compared to only 30 ten years ago, according to chief engineer for hybrid and electric powertrains Chuck Gray.
He added that there are more on the way. The automaker has previously disclosed last month that the hybrid variant of its refurbished Fusion will get 44 miles per gallon in highway driving and 47 mpg in urban driving.
The latest Camry hybrid that went on sale in 2011 is rated at 39 mpg highway and 43 mpg city. Gray commented that it's good for the customer, adding that they "like to have this competition." He further stated that engineers may not be "the best athletes" all the time, but they are "very competitive people."
The rivalry between Toyota and Ford in hybrid sedan fuel-economy claims started when Ford launched the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, beating out Toyota's first gasoline-electric Camry.
While Toyota is still the biggest seller in terms of hybrids (thanks to its Prius models), Ford and other rivals want a larger market share for advanced technology autos. By 2020, Ford anticipates that hybrids, electric vehicles and plug-in automobiles will comprise 10% to 25% of worldwide sales, company spokesperson Wes Sherwood disclosed.
According to Ford, the 2013 hybrid Fusion will be available for sale in the second half of the year. Toyota has at least 2,000 patents for its hybrids, including at least 1,000 for the current Prius only, company spokesperson Jana Hartline said.
The U.S. rated the Prius hatchback as getting 48 mpg highway and 51 mpg city, or 50 mpg combined. This is the highest rating for any non-rechargeable auto. Last year, the automakers disclosed plans to join forces on a hybrid system that could be used for heavier models like large sport-utility vehicles and pickups.
As part of Ford’s commitment to be one of the leaders in the areas of fuel efficiency, it developed the new Fusion to be able to top its class in terms of fuel economy in any of the sub-segments -- gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
This commitment has inspired the US carmaker to offer a wide array of fuel-efficient powertrains – the broadest in the midsize car segment – with two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives.
Ford is also offering an array of technologies that could help it forward this commitment like an automatic start stop system, automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions and front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications.
One of the two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines available for the new Ford Fusion is a 1.6-liter version that could return 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. A larger and higher-powered 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine is also available. This would effectively allow the new Ford Fusion to perform a lot better, especially when opted with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission (with paddle shift), an all-wheel drive system that could send more torque to the rear wheels, and available 19-inch wheels and tires.
Meanwhile, the new Fusion Hybrid now comes powered with all-new light-saving lithium-ion batteries that could deliver more power than their nickel-metal hydride predecessors. This allows the new Fusion Hybrid to run at an electric-only maximum speed of 62 mph, from 47 mph before.
The new Fusion Hybrid now also comes with a new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, which while downsized from its 2.5-liter predecessor, still provides similar power levels. Moreover, it is more fuel efficient, delivering an estimated fuel economy of 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.