Actions Define Sustainability at Ford
By EV World
"Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future," said Ford's Susan Cischke, Vice President for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. She was addressing the opening plenary session of the 23rd Electric Vehicle Symposium, held this year in Anaheim, California. The conference series -- the next will be held in the Spring of 2009 in Norway -- began 1968 and has marked the undulating progress of EV technology for some 40 years.
But for Ms. Cischke and Ford Motor Company this EVS was highlighted by the commencement of Ford's exploration -- in collaboration with Southern California Edison (SCE) -- of the technical challenges and opportunities of plug-in hybrid vehicles. During the conference, Cischke, and her colleague Nancy Gioia, handed over the keys to Ford's first plug-in Escape Hybrid SUV to representatives of SCE.
The significance of this event is that it marked what history may remember as the transition point of the automotive industry from one based mainly on petroleum-fueled vehicles to one powered by electric energy generated from many sources, both fossil and renewable.
Cischke points out that, "The dreams of personal mobility to the average American was realized only four generations ago.
"But", she continues, "we really are the first generation to question the impacts of unrestrained progress and to define and implement sustainable strategies for future growth."
To achieve this, Ford supports an economy-wide carbon cap-n-trade system that brings all of the key stakeholders into the initiative, including the automotive and energy sectors, as well as consumers. Cischke sees a three-pronged effort on the auto industry side that includes (1) increased vehicle efficiency, (2) reduced carbon content in the fuel and (3) "measures to effect consumer usage and consumer purchase decisions."
With respect to the first element -- increased vehicle efficiency -- Ford believes that the technology must be able to be implemented, not in a few hundred or thousand demonstrators but in millions of cars, and yet still remain affordable for consumers.
"It's applying the right technology on volume vehicles."
In the near term of the next five years, Ford will "stabilize" the mass of its vehicles, boost the efficiency of its IC engines using direct injection and turbo-charging. It is also looking at new transmission technologies, more hybrid vehicles and the wider deployment of mid-range diesels in more markets.
Mid-term between 2010 and 2020, the emphasis will be greater weight reduction through the use of more aluminum.
Long-term, beyond 2020, the company sees large scale electrification across its vehicle platforms.
Reducing the carbon content of fuels means increased usage of biofuels with the near-term being conventional ethanol and biodiesel. Mid-term the company sees the transition to second-generation biofuel production from cellulosic ethanol derived from crop waste. Ford also sees greater penetration of "advanced energy sources" in this same time frame.
Long term, three innovations are required: advanced batteries, hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines and finally fuel cells.
An essential part of this vision of affordable, mass-produced plug-in hybrids, is the investigation of various types of business models, including more like the SCE collaboration.
Ms. Cischke highlights Ford's progress toward its sustainability goals since EVS 23, noting that the company's 30 hydrogen fuel cell Focus sedans have accumulated more than 600,000 miles of operation. It also has 24 hydrogen-fueled shuttle buses in operation in both Canada and the U.S. The company's 20 E-85 fueled Escape Hybrids have demonstrated a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Ford also rolled out in January 2007 its HySeries Escape Hybrid, which is a plug-in hybrid with 25 miles of electric-only driving range that utilizes a fuel cell to propel the vehicle for another 200 miles of "gasoline-free" driving.
Because of the environmental and national security benefits of grid-connected hybrids (plug-in), Ford chose to partner with SCE to explore possible synergies of using electric power off the grid, as well as driving down the cost of the battery while addressing issues like durability and the vehicle-to-grid interface.
Like Toyota, Ford is also researching the challenges of personal mobility is the world's mega-cities.
Beyond the vehicles it produces, Ford is also working to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of its manufacturing facilities. It is the only car company to be a part of the Chicago Climate Exchange initiative and is also a member of the European Union emissions trading scheme. Its Dearborn truck assembly plant in Michigan is covered with the world's largest "green roof" consisting of 10.4 acres of sedum, a drought-tolerant plant.
Ford's diesel engine plant in Europe receives all of its electric power from wind turbines, Cischke also reports. A second engine plant is partially powered by the largest solar electric array on any auto plant in Europe.
However, she also acknowledges that while a promising start, much more needs to be done.
We encourage you to listen to her 15-minute presentation in its entirety for details of what Ford is doing to help move the world towards a sustainable future. You can use either of the two MP3 players at the top of this synopsis or you may download the file to your computer for transfer to and playback on your favorite MP3 device.