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April 16, 2003
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Ford Points To A Strong Future With New Escape Hybrid SUV

Ford Escape Hybrid

Photo: Ford

NEW YORK - Ford Motor Company is highlighting its commitment to hybrid vehicles at this week's New York International Auto Show. The company is showing the Escape Hybrid SUV - which will begin low-volume fleet production at year's end and retail production in the second half of 2004.

As the first true no-compromise hybrid SUV, it combines the cargo capacity and go-anywhere capability of the Ford Escape sport-utility vehicle with the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a "full" hybrid system.

"The Escape Hybrid is just one way we're delivering on our 'better world' promise," said Ford Division president Steve Lyons, referencing Ford Motor Company's vision of great products, a stronger business and a better world.


The Ford Escape Hybrid will be among the most advanced hybrid vehicles on the road when it debuts. The hybrid system has been uniquely engineered by Ford for the Escape.

Among the breakthrough technologies on the vehicle is an advanced thermal management system that will result in longer battery life. Other benefits will include better acceleration performance when the vehicle is in pure electric mode and more efficient powertrain operation during highway driving.

"The Ford Escape Hybrid significantly improves the power density of the hybrid drive system to meet the power demands of an SUV in available space," according to Ford Hybrid Technology Chief Engineer Prabhakar Patil. "Applying hybrid technology to an SUV clearly presents a challenge. You simply have to get more out of the same type of powertrain package that to this point has only been asked to propel a smaller car."

As the first true "no-compromise" SUV, the Escape Hybrid will offer:

  • A "full" hybrid system, including a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery, allowing the vehicle to run on either the gasoline engine or battery power alone

  • 35-40 miles per gallon fuel economy in the city driving cycle

  • Extraordinarily low emissions under the California SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) and PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) standards, with 97 percent fewer hydrocarbon emissions than permitted by the national Tier 1 standard and virtually zero evaporative emissions

  • Nearly a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in city driving

  • Significantly extended driving range between fuel stops

  • Acceleration performance comparable to the 201 horsepower Escape V-6 engine

  • Cargo capacity and off-road capability equal to the base Escape, with optional 4WD

At the heart of the Escape Hybrid is a compact hybrid transaxle linking Ford's efficient 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, 65-kW electric motor, 28-kW generator and the drive wheels.

This hybrid system, co-developed by Ford, Volvo and Aisin AW, gives "full" hybrid benefits, including:

  • Engine stop/start (automatically stops engine while idling and instantly restarts as necessary)

  • Electric assist (supplements the 2.3-liter gasoline engine when accelerating/passing)

  • Regenerative braking (recovers energy typically lost as heat through braking friction, storing it for the next acceleration)

  • Electric drive (in city driving, the gasoline engine may be off as much as 40 percent of the time)

This "full" hybrid functionality is packaged neatly in place of the standard transaxle and is powered by a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack located beneath the rear load floor. Since the battery is charged while braking and cruising, the Escape Hybrid does not need to be "plugged in" like battery-electric vehicles.

Escape Hybrid Show Vehicle

The Escape Hybrid show vehicle is Ice Blue with silver lower body cladding. Differentiating it from production Escape models are its 18-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels; a new front fascia with integrated stylized skid plate and circular fog lamps; quad headlamps and silver honeycomb grille insert.

Hybrid graphics with Ford's road-and-leaf logo further set the Escape Hybrid apart. The rearmost window on the left side is split to accommodate an air extractor for the cooled hybrid battery pack beneath the load floor. The vehicle also has the innovative No Boundaries Rack System available on today's Escape.

Inside, this Escape Hybrid is trimmed in light ivory leather with leather-and-sisal woven inserts in the seats and door panels. The floor mats also are made from natural woven material. The leather-wrapped steering wheel frames chrome-ringed, satin-white gauges showing the state of the hybrid battery. The tachometer includes an area indicating electric-only mode when the engine is temporarily switched off to save fuel.

A new center console with a leather-wrapped floor-mounted shifter is featured. A single liquid-crystal display in the center console serves as the audio system interface, a navigation system and a real-time "power path" visual indication of the operating state of the hybrid system. It shows, for example, if the battery is being charged or discharged, if the vehicle is recovering energy during braking or if the electric drive is providing additional power. A painted ivory bezel surrounds the LCD screen.

The Hybrid Principle

Hybrid vehicles use smaller engines that easily meet the cruising needs of the vehicle, while relying on an electric motor or other assistance to provide the extra power necessary for acceleration and hill climbs. The result is better overall efficiency, without a performance penalty.

Hybrids are designed to recover energy during braking. In traditional vehicles, the energy used to accelerate the car is lost as heat when the driver applies the brakes. Hybrids, on the other hand, can be engineered to recover a substantial portion of what would otherwise be "lost energy" and store it temporarily for use while accelerating again.

The Escape Hybrid is a "full" hybrid, meaning it has a relatively large storage battery and has the capability of driving on electric power alone. Mild hybrids, by contrast, are distinguished by relatively small battery capacity and the inability to propel the vehicle in an electric-only drive mode.

When the driver calls for maximum acceleration, the gasoline engine and the electric motor work in parallel, providing the launch performance of a powerful V-6 engine. In less demanding situations, the Escape Hybrid can run on its electric motor alone, its gasoline engine alone or the most efficient combination of the two.

While cruising on the highway, for example, the gasoline engine is used. But for low-speed driving, such as bumper-to-bumper traffic, the electric motor can be the sole power source and can propel the vehicle without the assistance of the gasoline engine.

An electric power steering assist system remains functional even when the engine shuts down and provides greater efficiency than traditional hydraulic systems.

(April 15, 2003)

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