Ford rolls out plug-in hybrid with hydrogen fuel cell
Continuing its commitment to exploring alternative powertrains, Ford Motor Company debuted a hydrogen-fueled, battery-powered plug-in in the new Airstream concept vehicle earlier this week at the North American International Auto Show.
The system, called HySeries Drive, is powered by a 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack at all times and has a range of 25 miles on a full electric power. Once the battery pack is depleted by about 40 percent, the hydrogen-powered fuel cell begins generating electricity to recharge the batteries, increasing range another 280 miles, for a total driving range of more than 300 miles.
At home, the battery pack can be refreshed by plugging into a standard outlet. The HySeries Drive powertrain delivers a combined city/highway gasoline equivalent fuel economy rating of 41 miles per gallon and can travel up to 85 miles an hour.
"We think one of the benefits of this powertrain is that in the early days of a developing hydrogen infrastructure, you can extend the time between hydrogen fill-ups by plugging in to recharge the batteries," said Scott Staley, chief engineer, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Technology at Ford Motor Company.
Staley says another advantage of the HySeriesDrive is its fuel, engine and energy- conversion flexibility.
"For example, you could take out the fuel cell and replace it with a hydrogen internal combustion engine, or I could replace the fuel cell and hydrogen tank with a diesel tank and a diesel engine," he explained. "And instead of a six- or eight-cylinder engine, I could use a considerably smaller three- or two-cylinder engine as an auxiliary power unit to recharge the battery pack."
The innovative powertrain reduces the size, weight, cost and complexity of a conventional fuel cell system by more than 50 percent. It also promises to more than double the lifetime of the fuel-cell stack.
The HySeries Drive system already is on the road in a Ford Edge prototype, which will be shown publicly for the first time at the Washington, D.C., Auto Show on Jan. 23.