Friday, May 8, 2009

The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient midsize gas sedan on the planet

When the final numbers came in, the results were eye-opening: With an EPA-estimated rating of 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is America’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan. *

The numbers topped the Toyota Camry hybrid by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway. The Fusion Hybrid even beat the fuel economy of the much-smaller Honda Civic hybrid by 1 mpg city.

That was the goal, said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “The Ford team set the bar high – to develop America’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan – and that’s what they delivered,” said Kuzak.

Hitting showrooms this month, the Fusion Hybrid is the result of hard work and long hours – and has been noticed by the automotive press.

"OK, let's just get it out there: The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the best gasoline-electric hybrid yet," raved USA TODAY.

How Team Fusion did it

Many of the engineers who spent the past three years on the project also had helped develop either the original Fusion or the Ford Escape Hybrid. The team developed the new car and its new powerplant in-house, based on what they had learned.

“The Fusion is our second-generation hybrid system,” said Gil Portalatin, Ford hybrid applications manager. He went on to explain that this is an American-developed system that the team evolved and brought to the point where they got some fantastic fuel economy. The team is very proud of this product.

The new system, which does not share parts or technology with any competitor, enables this Fusion to travel more than 700 miles on a single tank of gas in city driving.

It also enables Ford’s latest hybrid, and its cousin, the Mercury Milan Hybrid, to travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode – faster than the Camry and every other hybrid currently on the road.

“The Fusion Hybrid’s ability to run at a much higher speed in electric mode allows drivers to maximize fuel efficiently in many driving situations,” said Praveen Cherian, the Fusion Hybrid program team leader. “For example, this would allow drivers to travel near their home or work in all-electric mode.”

In addition, the system’s advanced intake variable-cam timing (iVCT) allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to smoothly transition between the gasoline engine and the battery-powered electric motor, and vice versa.

“Improved driveability is one of the key breakthroughs on the Fusion Hybrid,” said Cherian. The refinements allow the vehicle “to deliver the optimal customer experience in fuel economy and driving dynamics.”

The Fusion Hybrid uses a smaller, lighter, nickel-metal hydride battery located in the trunk. The new battery produces 20-percent more power than Ford’s previous hybrid system.

The improved chemistry in the new battery pack allows it to be run at a higher temperature, while being cooled with air from the car’s interior rather than a small auxiliary air-conditioning system as on other hybrids. This also saves weight.

“We worked with our supplier, so now we’ve got a smaller, lighter, and more heat-resistant battery and that’s just the best of all worlds,” said Portalatin.

The hybrid’s leading fuel economy also benefitted from the better aerodynamics achieved on the standard gas-engine 2010 Fusion.

In working to smooth the airflow over, under and around the car, designers and engineers developed the all-new front and rear fascias, small spoilers mounted ahead of the front and rear wheels, a new underbody engine shield and an optimized cooling airflow into the engine compartment. On the hybrid, even the fog lamps were mounted differently to cut down on wind drag.

The hybrid’s 17-inch aluminum wheels were also designed to reduce weight and aid aerodynamics while still delivering top performance. With less open space between the spokes, they were designed to improve airflow over and around the wheels.

“When we saw that 40 mpg was in reach, we did everything we could to get there,” said Portalatin.

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