Ford Previews Parade of New Electrical Vehicles

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Ford Previews Parade of New Electrical Vehicles

by Chris Preimesberger

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It's going to take several years for this to gain enough momentum to become a national initiative, but connecting all the incoming electric vehicles to the existing power grid—and into renewable energy resources—in the United States is going to be a whale of a job. Refill stations and power meters will need to be set up in all areas, and homes and businesses will need to be retrofitted with standardized electrical connections to accommodate these vehicles. Thus far, there are few standards for this need, and Ford is among the companies working to establish them.

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Ford has four categories of electrified vehicles either on the roads or in development: EcoBoost (available now), Hybrid (now), Battery Electric (available by 2010) and Plug-In Hybrid (by 2012). At the recent San Francisco demonstration, the company rolled out an Escape Plug-In Hybrid and an all-electric Focus.

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The Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid is a sleek-looking, roomy vehicle that simply plugs into the wall when it needs battery power. Eventually, cars like these will be able to obtain power wirelessly through a smart grid network.

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Here's a close look at what's under the hood in the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid. The front battery takes up about half the room alongside the gasoline engine. Another battery is located under the trunk space.

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The Escape trunk battery is out of sight in the rear of the vehicle.

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Here is where the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid gets its electrical power—right in front of the driver's side door.

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A view from the rear passenger's side of the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid.

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The Focus is a standard-size sedan that is surprisingly roomy inside and is very economical to operate and maintain.

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Ford's Magna battery pack dwarfs the other components under the Focus's hood.

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The auxiliary battery pack in the back of the Focus unfortunately takes up quite a bit of trunk space; potential owners need to add this into the "pros and cons" list in making a buying decision.

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The Ford Escape Plug-In comes standard with a dashboard computer screen that not only has a GPS but also connects directly to information sources for power supplies. It tells the driver how many miles it has left in reserve and how far to the nearest refill station, among other things.

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Here is a more detailed look at how the power-supply information system works on the Escape Plug-In.

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Ford's Nancy Gioia (right) has a very unusual title: director of global electrification. Her role is to lead strategy and planning for the next generation of Ford's global electric vehicle portfolio, touching all aspects of electrified transportation including product planning, supplier partnerships and collaboration with the energy industry and government.

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Zero-emission buses like this one in downtown San Francisco have been in use for several years in major U.S. cities. Taxis are now following suit; corporate vehicle fleets are beginning to move over to low- and zero-emission models, and eventually more and more personal vehicles will do the same. Ford projects that 10 percent to 20 percent of the cars it sells by the year 2020 will be electrically powered. That may be a conservative number.

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