Ford Escape Flex-Fuel PHEV

[social_buttons] First Flex-Fuel Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

As part of a push by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to make plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) cost competitive with other cars by 2014, Ford has delivered a plug-in hybrid electric flex-fuel Escape to the DOE to join its test fleet of other PHEVs currently undergoing research and testing.

The vehicle is equipped with a 10 kilowatt lithium ion battery that can take it up to 30 miles at speeds under 40 mph before needing to fire up its fuel-fed hybrid-electric engine. After that, the hybrid-electric engine kicks in and can deliver a fuel economy of 88 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway when using E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline blend).

This means that for most people in the US, they would only have to use fuel in this vehicle once or twice a week with the rest of their driving needs covered by the battery.

According to Ford, this is the first ever flex-fuel PHEV capable of running on E85.

Ford claims that, based on current estimates, the Escape Flex-Fuel PHEV would emit 60% less carbon dioxide than a conventional gasoline powered vehicle. Ford also states that if cellulosic E85 fuel was used, that carbon dioxide reduction could be as high as 90%.

I’m assuming the “as high as 90%” reduction claim is based on the fact that cellulosic ethanol is typically derived from plant material and the growth of these feedstocks can represent an additional carbon sink — not that Ford thinks cellulosic ethanol provides lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to corn ethanol when combusted.

In addition to taking delivery of the Escape Flex-Fuel PHEV, DOE announced that $30 million will be made available over the next three years to fund PHEV demonstration and development projects with industry cooperation. The goal is to develop PHEVs that can be mass produced, compete effectively in the marketplace, and substantially reduce petroleum consumption.

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Image Credit: Ford Motor Company