Ford


stang1x

Kurt Neutgens is hoping to sell you an electric Mustang for just over $75,000. A few years ago he quit his mechanical engineering job at the Ford Motor Company and founded Plug-In Motors.

Working out of his garage on a shoestring budget, like the very first automotive pioneers, it did not take him very long to take a stock Mustang, pull the engine out, add 2450 batteries, and add an electric engine to convert the car to run of volts instead of gallons.

It actually seems very simple to do when you think about it, but there was a great deal of engineering involved to convert everything that once ran on the gasoline engine, like the air conditioning, to now run on the batteries, Neutgens said.

The good news is that at the current cost of household electricity in Colorado, it only cost about $2.30 to run the car for 100 miles.

The bad news is that the car has a range of only about 80 miles, and that it takes 11 hours to recharge it when plugged into a standard household 110 volt outlet.

stand2x

Neutgens recommends that potential buyers recharge the car from their 220 volt dryer outlet which considerably decreases the recharge time.

So how does the car drive?

Like a standard Mustang with a bad case of the hiccups.

For those of you familiar with any of the Toyota or Honda hybrids you’ll feel right at home behind the wheel of the E-Stang.

You sit down behind the wheel, adjust the mirrors, put the key in the ignition, and turn it. Nothing happens except that the car starts to softly hiccup as it builds brake pressure.

Next, simple flip the switch on the new computer like center display to drive, and step on the gas. The E-Stang whirls away quietly. In my short drive around the neighborhood I was able to test the 0-50 time which was a somewhat leisurely 9.11 seconds.

stang3x

Neutgens claims a faster acceleration time but you will very quickly drain the battery if you get on the volts too much.

And that’s really the one big downside to this or any other current electric car. As you drive it you become hyper-sensitive to the state of the cars batteries. “Will I make it back home,” always seems to hang like an unspoken question in the air.

“We see it as an around town car,” Neutgens said when I asked him about this fear of running out of juice.

One interesting feature of the E-Stang is the ability by the driver to adjust the amount of regenerative breaking. The car has a sliding switch which allows the driver to dial in little (or a lot) of regenerative braking.

With the switch set to the highest position you hardly need to touch the brakes to stop the car. It’s a bit strange at first, but you get the hang of it quickly.

stang4x

Neutgens is in Denver and Boulder this week taking orders and giving potential buyers E-Stang rides. He has targeted Colorado customers because this state has “by far” the best tax incentives to buy plug-in cars.

In fact Neutgens says that if you make enough money, given the generous local tax incentives, the car will not just pay for itself, but actually make you money.

You can test drive the E-Stang yourself at Lakewood Ford in Lakewood on Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28, as Neutgens will be giving rides and taking orders.

Automakers showcased their newest environmentally friendly models at International Auto Expo in Raleigh this weekend, including an SUV that can get up to 120 miles a gallon.

Car enthusiast Carl Jensen was among those who strolled around the Expo. He said he doesn’t see a more expensive hybrid vehicle making financial sense during tough economic times.

“When they get that cost down, then the hybrid could be a solution. But right now, I don’t think it’s a viable solution,” he said.

Automakers say they are trying to bring down those costs and go even greener. Ford showed off a new Escape plug-in hybrid vehicle.

“You could easily just plug this in, put it in your garage, five to 10 hours later, you have a fully charged vehicle,” said Peter Jap, with Ford.

Peter Jap, with Ford Motor Company, said the charge allows you to drive up to 40 miles on an electric motor.

Progress Energy is testing a plug-in hybrid in the Triangle. The company is studying how much charging an electric car might add to a person’s power bill.

“A plug-in vehicle … is probably only adding about the same amount of electricity as a blender in your kitchen might, in the long run,” the utility’s Scott Sutton said.

General Motors showed off its stable of green vehicles for 2009. There were a lot of choices, from hybrid SUVs to a flex-fuel Hummer.

Despite greener vehicles to choose from, some people might be asking if now is the right time to buy a new car.

“I think so. Right now, more than ever, you can get the best deals at the dealerships. They’re willing to work with you,” said Araba Dowell, with General Motors.

Jensen said hybrid technology is just an interim step on the way to a greener auto industry.

“Hybrid is what we can buy right now. But if you’re patient, I think that will change,” Jensen said.

Ford plans to have a family of plug-in, battery and hybrid vehicles by 2012. Chevrolet plans to introduce an electric car to the consumer market by the end of next year. Toyota says it plans to add solar panels to its hybrid Prius in 2010.

Automakers showcased their newest environmentally-friendly models at International Auto Expo in Raleigh.

The sexy electric Roadster by Tesla Motors has been getting a lot of attention ever since the first photos came out a few years ago. Part of that attention comes from its looks, which were different from most electric cars that came before, but what’s under the hood is just as interesting.

Tesla Roadster Electric Car Photo

 

BYD is a huge Chinese battery maker who recently started making plug-in hybrids and electric cars. Despite delays some delays in introducing EVs to the US, it is on track to become a big player in the next few years. The electric E6 pictured here is BYD’s battery-powered crossover. There’s also the BYD F3DM and F6DM.

BYD E6 Electric Car photo
The XS500 by the Miles Automotive Group is expected to be a highway-capable electric car sold for $30,000-35,000 in the United States around 2009-2010.
Miles XS500 EV Electric Car photo
the i MiEV by Mitsubishi is a small battery electric car that has got a lot of press lately. Mitsubishi has announced that it would start producing it a year in advance (2009 instead of 2010), and 2,000 i MiEVs will be made in the production run.
Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car photo

The R1E is a small urban battery electric car by Subaru. It was recently tested around New York City.

Subaru r1e electric car photo
The EV1 is now almost a legend, partly because it was one of the first electric cars that the average person could actually drive, and partly because of GM’s campaign to destroy them (see Who Killed the Electric Car?). Recently an EV1 that avoided being crushed was sold for $465k.
GM EV1 Electric Car photo
The REVA (known as the G-Wiz i in the UK) is a small city electric car from India. It’s not the most high-tech EV, and at 745 kg (1,640 lb), it’s definitely not the biggest. But it’s been in production since 2001 and the new version features an improved range.
REVA electric car photo
The ZENN (Zero Emission, No Noise) is a 2-seater neighborhood battery electric car. It has a range of up to 40 miles (64 km) and does not exceed 25 mph (40 km/h). This green car has been in production since 2006.
ZENN EV Electric Car photo
The Tango is an ultra-narrow electric sports car built by Commuter Cars. It sells for an eye-popping $108,000 (you could get a Tesla Roadster for that kind of money), and it is better known as “that electric car that George Clooney drives“. It can do 0-60 mph in 4 seconds.
Tango Electric Car photo
The Aptera 2e (formerly the Typ-1e) is a super-efficient electric vehicle designed be Aptera motors, and it probably has the most avant-garde look of all electric cars featured here. The company also plans a plug-in hybrid version that would get about 300 MPG if plugged in every 120 miles. Google has invested money in the company. The all-electric model will sell for $27,000 and the series plug-in hybrid version will sell for $30,000.
Aptera Electric Car photo
The GM Volt is a “range-extended” electric car is scheduled for 2011. It should be able to drive 40 miles in all-electric mode before a gas engine kicks in to recharge the batteries. More information and photos about the Volt can be found here.
GM Volt plug in electric car photo
Like the GM Volt, the Fisker Karma is a “range-extended” electric car. Its all-electric range is 50 miles, and over that a gas engine kicks in to generate power and recharge the batteries. Fisker has recently opened an engineering center near Detroit
Fisker Karma plug in electric car photo

In the fall of 2008 Chrysler unveiled three electric car concepts, saying that it would produce one. The first is the Dodge EV, an electric sports car.

Dodge EV electric sports car photo

Ford's electric Transit Connect has the power to move you -- and all your stuff

Electric vehicles are great, but they tend to be tiny, cute, and generally rather useless for people who have things that need to be taken places. That’s not the case with Ford’s distinctively non-cute Transit Connect, a van of the type you typically see shuttling flowers and other small goods around urban streets. This one, however, runs entirely on battery power (a first for Ford) despite being able to haul 1,760 pounds of cargo to a maximum range of 100 miles — on the high side for your average EV but perhaps not enough for a day’s worth of deliveries. No word in pricing, but expect these to start showing up at Ford dealerships sometime next year, frequently in white.

Update: Commenter ericlmccormic clued us in to the earlier Ford Ranger EV that was offered up until 2002 — before being summarily recalled and destroyed. Big Oil conspiracy theorists take note!

Update 2: A few commenters mentioned that not all the Ranger EVs were decommissioned; some lived out their days well past 2002, happily delivering smiles to children and in no way taking part in any fuel-based schemes.

 

2010 Transit Connect

The 2010 Transit Connect for the North American market.

(Credit: Ford Motor Company)

If an electric passenger car is good, an electric people mover is even better. Ford Motor Company on Monday announced plans to bring an all-electric version of the 2010 Transit Connect to the North American market in addition to its 2.0 liter gasoline-powered model.

Based on the global Transit Connect platform, the light commercial vehicle will be built in Turkey and imported to the U.S. It will be outfitted by Smith Electric Vehicles.

Details on the vehicles are few. Ford has not announced the type of battery or its supplier. But if Smith Electric Vehicles’ Ampere is similar to what the North American market will receive, the Transit Connect is powered by two 24 kWh lithium ion batteries, giving it a top speed of 70 mph and a range of up to 100 miles. Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Moore said the Ampere was the EU version of the Transit Connect and reiterated that Ford has not announced a battery type or supplier. However, she said the North American version of the all-electric Transit Connect will have a targeted range of approximately 100 miles.

The Transit Connect is a smaller alternative to a full-size cargo van and can be outfitted for package delivery or for passenger use. Sales volumes will initially be small, said Moore. However, Ford is exploring fleet sales to commercial industries and government groups. Moore explained that the best application of these vehicles is for companies that have set routes and return to a central location for recharging overnight.

Ford has not announced pricing on the all-electric Transit Connect. The light commercial vehicle will be Ford’s first all-electric move into the North American market, preceding the small electric passenger sedan in 2011.

ETROIT (CNNMoney.com) — Ford wants to roll out a fleet of hybrid and plug-in cars over the next several years, but it does not want to go down the road General Motors is taking with the Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt, which is expected to go on sale late next year, will use purely electric power to drive the wheels, and a gasoline engine will only be used to generate electricity for longer range. But Ford engineers believe that using a gas engine that way won’t deliver both the fuel economy and performance customers want.

Instead, Ford wants to build fully electric vehicles – with no gas engine at all – as well as advanced hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, where the gas engine drives the wheels directly. Ford believes vehicles like these will better meet real-world needs.

“We just felt that regular hybrids, along with plug-in hybrids and full electric were just better alternatives for our customers,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford’s vice president for global powertrain engineering in an interview at the Detroit Auto Show.

Customers who want all-electric drive can simply buy one of Ford’s upcoming electric vehicles, she said. The automaker plans to introduce a new battery-only electric commercial van in 2010 followed by a new all-electric small car in 2011. The electric car is expected to travel about 100 miles on a charge.

Drivers who want longer range can buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid where gasoline power pushes the wheels much of the time. Fuel economy for a plug-in hybrid, according to Ford, would be about 120 miles per gallon.

Ford has said it would introduce several “next-generation” hybrids, including a plug-in, by 2012. “Next-generation” hybrids will have more advanced battery technology than today’s hybrids, Ford said, allowing for more efficient performance and less reliance on the gas engine.

Plug-in hybrids will operate like today’s hybrid vehicles – with both gasoline combustion and electricity driving the wheels – but they will be able to take in additional electric power by plugging into an outlet, which allows for such extremely high fuel economy

Electric plan

Ford experimented with its own prototype extended-range electric vehicle, like the Volt. Ford’s was called the Edge with HySeries drive. It used a hydrogen fuel cell instead of a gas engine to generate extra power, but the principal was essentially the same.

But to provide acceptable performance once plug-in power is depleted, Ford engineers believe a gas engine would have to be too large to provide the kind of long-range fuel economy customers want, Samardzich said.

The alternative, she said, would be to use an engine so small that performance would be compromised.

Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for Chevy’s Volt program, disagreed with Samardzich. He insisted that the Volt will perform fine even when electric power was being generated by the car’s fuel-efficient 1.4-liter engine.

“The only minor issue is in an extreme elevation,” he said, “somewhere in Colorado, up a steep grade.”

Posawatz called that a “less than 1% of the time issue” and said it was comparable to what drivers would feel with any small-engined car.

The Volt will by driven by pure electric power and will be able to travel up to 40 miles on plug-in power alone before needing to generate electricity on board. Chrysler has also said it is planning to have a line of such vehicles beginning next year.

Because 40 miles is farther than most Americans drive on the average day, GM and Chrysler boast that their vehicles could potentially go weeks needing little gasoline at all – if any.

Also, by starting with an extended range-electric vehicle, GM is maintaining maximum flexibility to follow where the market leads, Posawatz said. A vehicle like the Volt can easily be sold as a pure-electric vehicle by simply taking out the engine.”

“It’s much harder to go the other way,” he said.

A conservative approach

Ford’s plan for a purely plug-in electric vehicle by 2011, followed by a plug-in hybrid in 2012, would put it behind the plans of GM and Chrysler. Those carmakers, as well as Japan-based Toyota and Nissan, have already announced plans to have plug-in electric vehicles on the market as early as next year.

“Ford, I think, is playing a bit of a card game,” said James Bell, editor of the automotive Web site Intellichoice.com.

Ford is betting that gas prices probably won’t rise sharply in the next few years, Bell surmised. In the near term, the carmakers’ so-called EcoBoost engines – turbocharged engines with highly sophisticated fuel injection systems – will provide the greater fuel economy Americans want as gas prices rise gradually.

“If gas prices go down, Ford’s going to look like the cat with the canary in its mouth,” Bell said.

Ford also simply tends to be more conservative, by nature, than GM, said Michele Krebs, a columnist for Edmunds.com’s AutoObserver.com Web site.

All of these plans are driven by future, stricter federal fuel economy standards, not by natural consumer demands, she said. Despite a lot of media buzz around electric vehicles, consumers would ordinarily only buy them when the price and capabilities genuinely met their needs.

“We’re moving into that era when it’s going to be legislated, so consumers will have to get on board,” she said. To top of page

 

DETROIT–Magna International Inc. is teaming up with Ford Motor Co. Ltd. to build a battery-electric vehicle for the North American market. The two companies revealed here yesterday they have been working for more than a year on a project to develop and build a compact car that would arrive in showrooms sometime in 2011.

“I think we are within striking distance of bringing a viable electric vehicle to market,” Magna co-chief executive officer Don Walker said in an interview after the announcement at the North American International Auto Show.

Unlike current hybrids, in which an on-board electric motor complements the main gasoline engine, the new generation of electric autos will be powered by batteries.

Magna said the vehicle will have an-board battery charger capable of plugging into a 110- or 220-volt standard outlet and will be able to recharge in eight hours, depending on the voltage of the outlet.

“We have leading-edge technology and the interest is there in this from consumers, governments, the car companies and parts suppliers. It’s also very exciting for Ford and Magna.”

Walker added the two companies are projecting volume of between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles in the first year but that could climb depending on fuel prices and government support for consumer incentives.

Ford, which is also struggling in the current industrial turmoil that threatens the survival of its North American rivals, said the car will have a range of about 160 kilometres without using any gasoline and without affecting performance.

“The Ford BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) is expected to offer consumers a familiar driving experience,” the automaker said in a statement. “It will operate similar to a conventional vehicle but with smoother acceleration, less noise and zero emission.”

The drive to green cars is a dominant theme at this year’s show as automakers combat higher fuel prices and environmental concerns. General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Toyota Motor Corp. are among the companies unveiling as many as 50 concept and production models that boast different forms of power.

Aurora-based Magna, one of the world’s biggest auto-parts makers, will be responsible for the powertrain and battery modules for the unnamed Ford vehicle.

“In an ideal world, we’d like to make everything associated with the electrification of the car,” Walker said.

The company is playing a key role in engineering for integration of the electric propulsion system and other systems.

The project has involved Magna’s research and developments centres in Michigan, Austria and its Aurora headquarters.

“The technology has really moved quickly in the last few years around lithium ion batteries and we’ve been a leading-edge player,” said Ted Robertson, Magna’s executive vice-president for new product creation.

The two companies, which would not disclose project costs, have not decided where they will assemble the vehicle. However, Magna is considering building a battery plant for the project, Walker suggested.

Magna will also try to secure contracts to build other components in the vehicle since it already has the capability to produce most auto parts from frames to seats and instrument panels.

Walker said Ford and Magna had been talking about an electric car for two years before his company showed the Detroit-based auto giant its capabilities. Ford decided about a year ago to pursue a project with Magna.

“We’ve known Ford has been interested in being a greener company for years,” Walker said. “Bill Ford Jr. (Ford’s executive chair) has been pushing that a long time.”

Ford also told several thousand journalists at the show that his company plans to introduce a battery electric commercial van in 2010 and a new generation of hybrid models, including plug-in versions in 2012.

“Ford is heading in the direction America and our customers want us to go, which is green, high-tech,” he said.

“I think that is where society would like to see the entire industry go and Ford is going to lead that charge.”

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice-president of product development, said the company and Magna share the same vision for “the potential of electrification in transportation.”

“This partnership leverages the technical expertise of two global companies to achieve a common goal, delivering a no-compromise, zero-emission, battery powered car for the retail market,” he said.

Magna chair and founder Frank Stronach has shown a keen interest in recent years in alterative propulsion vehicles beyond the traditional fuel combustion engine.

 

Walker also confirmed Magna is pursuing electric vehicle projects with other automakers, although he would not elaborate.

“We have a lot other projects but not of this (Ford) magnitude,” he said.

 

DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR

Don Walker, CEO of Magna International, with a cutaway of a joint Magna-Ford car they are going to build, at the North American International Auto Show on Sunday Jan. 11, 2009

Next Page »