Ford continues to invest in EcoBoost engines, EVs rather than compressed natural gas powertrains

Article by Christian A., on March 12, 2012

Ford Motor Co. considers the future of EcoBoost engines and electric vehicles to be “more solid” and has invested more for this technology. Meanwhile, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are putting in compressed natural gas powertrains to their pickups this year. Raj Nair, who will take on the role of Ford’s group vice president of global product development on April 1, said that refueling infrastructure is limited and the low density of natural gas had made it difficult to store or transport by vehicle.

At the Geneva motor show, Nair said that with these disadvantages, what Ford will do is to emphasize other technologies. Ford’s F-Series pickups have stayed on top of the U.S. market for the last 30 years.

GM will open order books next month for pickups that use both gasoline and compressed natural gas. Meanwhile, Chrysler expects to deliver trucks with similar technology to fleet buyers this July. Nair said that in comparing EcoBoost and its electrification strategy in the U.S. with the diesel strategy in Europe and elsewhere, Chrysler has “put really solid investments in for mainstream offerings” on the former. Last year, Ford presented its first EcoBoost engine for F- Series pickups. To raise fuel economy, EcoBoost makes use of direct fuel injection and turbocharging.

Trucks that had this engine made up over 40% of the model line’s retail sales by December and 43% in February. In a statement dated March 5, the company said that GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD extended-cab pickups will be available with a 6.0-liter, V-8 engine that can “seamlessly” transition between natural gas and gasoline.

In a March 6 statement, Chrysler said that its Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup for fleet and commercial customers will use both compressed gas storage tanks and an eight-gallon conventional gasoline fuel tank. Fiat S.p.A. has engines that use compressed natural gas in Europe. Fiat currently owns 58.5% of Chrysler.

Ford Motor Company revealed that it is set to finally unveil its first all-electric passenger car with the Focus Electric. The Focus has long been one of the most popular small models to come from the brand and this gas-free and no-emission variant is expected to take the lead in Ford’s increasing fleet of green vehicles. This includes the hybrid models, plug-in hybrids, and the all-electric versions.

The Focus Electric will bring with it a host of new technologies and features like the latest incarnation of the MyFord Touch, Ford’s driver connect system. It even has a value charging feature that is managed by Microsoft. Finally, there is the MyFord Mobile app for smart phones that allows owners to remotely control their vehicles. Should the battery be depleted, it is simple to recharge it fully. All it takes is a standard 240-volt charge station one can find at home plus around 3 to 4 hours. This recharge time is half than what it takes to fully recharge the battery of the Nissan Leaf.

Ford Group’s Vice-President for Global Product Development Derrick Kuzak said that the Focus Electric will not only be the flagship of its newest EV range, it will symbolize the brand’s commitment as it seeks to give customers the option to purchase fuel-free, or at the very least fuel-efficient, models. He added that through the innovative powertrain, the Focus Electric will continue to deliver driving enjoyment while ensuring energy efficiency and no CO2 emissions.

Kuzak said that with the wide range of smart driver information technologies equipped inside, customers are likely to change how they think about their transport needs and energy usage. Ford disclosed that the official launch of the Focus Electric will occur by the late 2011.

Customers in the U.S. have nothing to fear as this model has been created to deliver the right amount of range that Americans need for their daily drive. Estimates show that mile-per-gallon is expected to be better compared to the Chevrolet Volt or any other EV from other brands for that matter. Ford’s green vehicle range is scheduled to arrive in North America and Europe sometime in 2013.

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