Ford Motor Company is working on all four of the major alternative fuel technologies - hybrids, ethanol, hydrogen and diesels. Recently, Ford made news on three of the four technologies, ranging from North America to Europe to Asia.
Ford will launch the beginnings of a "Midwest Ethanol Corridor" - expanding E85 ethanol fuel availability by about one-third throughout the states of Illinois and Missouri this year through the company's ongoing partnership with VeraSun Energy, a renewable energy company. Actions to increase the availability of ethanol in neighboring states are planned, as well.
Ford also announced that it is working with the city of Chicago to put hybrid vehicles into service as taxi cabs beginning in 2007, as part of a plan being considered today by the Chicago City Council. Ford is loaning the city an Escape Hybrid to serve as a training and education tool with taxi fleets and the public. The Ford Escape Hybrid will help taxi companies reduce fuel expenses while helping to improve the air quality in the city.
The first phase in the creation of the Midwest ethanol corridor is to convert approximately 40 existing gasoline fuel pumps in Illinois and Missouri to E85. The move will increase availability by approximately one-third this year. Ford estimates there are 50,000 owners of Ford flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) in Illinois and 28,000 in Missouri. Ford will work with fuel providers and officials in other states to further develop the Midwest ethanol corridor.
Meanwhile, Ford is joining two European alternative fuel projects, PROCURA and BEST, underlining its commitment to bio-ethanol initiatives across the continent. As the leading manufacturer of environmentally advanced bio-ethanol powered flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) in Europe, Ford aims to take its expertise into these new multi-stakeholder initiatives with the ultimate goal of making mobility more sustainable.
PROCURA (derived from "procurement") is a three-year project which started today in Utrecht (Netherlands). It follows the January 25 launch of the BEST (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport) initiative in Stockholm (Sweden).
Both projects, partly funded by the European Union, assist the market development of alternative fuels and vehicles. Through the establishment of large scale demonstration projects, the initiatives aim to provide a thorough understanding of the barriers and issues associated with the market penetration of alternative fuels and respective vehicle technologies in Europe. Project-members come from several areas, incl. the automotive and fuel industry, local and national government organizations, research institutions and fleet owners (public/private).
BEST, which focuses on bio-ethanol, has pilot projects planned or underway with Ford vehicles in Ireland, the UK, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. PROCURA, which looks at bio-ethanol, bio-diesel and natural gas, is to establish test programs in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands. With these latest developments, Ford remains the pace-setting car manufacturer for ethanol-powered vehicles in Europe.
Ford of Canada will become the first automaker to bring hybrid vehicle production to Canada when the Oakville Assembly Complex (OAC) adds hybrid versions of the all-new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX to its assembly line later this decade.
Canada will officially enter the hybrid age by 2010 - that's when OAC will begin volume production of the near-zero emission, high fuel economy vehicles. In preparation, the 5.4 million ft 2 (486,000 m 2) complex west of Toronto is under going a massive $1 billion conversion to flexible manufacturing allowing it to build multiple models on unique architectures.
Production of the 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) will occur in the fourth quarter of this year with hybrid production scheduled to begin by 2010. Specific product details for the Canadian-made hybrids will be revealed closer to launch.
Mazda Motor Corporation received permission from Japan's Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) to begin leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE to its first two corporate customers. These vehicles, equipped with a rotary engine, feature a dual-fuel system that allows the driver to select either hydrogen or gasoline with the flick of a switch.
Mazda has started limited leasing of the vehicles and today concluded leases with two energy-related companies, marking the first lease contracts of a hydrogen-powered rotary engine equipped vehicle in the world. Delivery of the vehicles is scheduled to take place in late March 2006.
In 2003, Mazda exhibited a RX-8 hydrogen rotary vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show and received permission from MLIT in October 2004 to conduct public road tests for ongoing development and practical application of this advanced technology. Mazda undertook 29 months of development from the time of announcing the concept model to achieving the breakthrough, real-world rotary hydrogen vehicle.
Employing a dual-fuel system, the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE can run on either high-pressure hydrogen gas or gasoline.