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April 07, 2004
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Manhattan On A Tank Of Gas: Ford Escape Hybrid Takes On Nightmarish Traffic Jams With Clean Efficiency

  • Ford to drive all-new, fuel-efficient Escape Hybrid through a "commuter's nightmare" to see how many miles of Manhattan traffic it can cover on a single tank of gas.

  • Clean-operating Ford Escape Hybrid produces near zero smog-forming emissions.

Photo: Ford

NEW YORK - "It's a commuter's nightmare." That's the way Mary Ann Wright describes the extreme driving test that begins today for the all-new Ford Escape Hybrid. Starting in midtown Manhattan during the morning rush-hour, the Escape Hybrid will be driven up, down and across the island over some of America's most congested streets and avenues. Chief engineer for the Ford Escape Hybrid, Wright won't stop the test until the small SUV's gas tank is completely dry. That may take 36 hours or more of non-stop driving.


"We've designed 'Manhattan on a Tank of Gas' to see how many miles an Escape Hybrid can be driven on a single tank of gas in some of the worst conditions for fuel efficiency most drivers would ever face," says Wright.

Ford Escape Hybrid is the world's cleanest and most fuel-efficient sport utility. Available at the end of this summer, it combines the fuel economy and emissions benefits of a "full" hybrid with the go-anywhere capability, toughness and spaciousness of the Ford Escape, America's favorite small SUV. Escape Hybrid is the first hybrid electric vehicle that can comfortably accommodate five adults and their gear. "No-compromise utility separates Escape Hybrid from other 'green' vehicles," Wright says.

"Escape Hybrid can provide an economical solution to a problem commuters face every day - bumper-to-bumper gridlock that can bleed a normal car's fuel tank dry," she says. "At the same time, Ford Escape Hybrid is a practical and livable environmental solution to help address air quality problems in our cities, as well as the global warming issue."

Making the epic Manhattan drive particularly impressive is the fact that the Escape Hybrid's gas tank holds just 15 gallons of fuel.

"Other vehicles might start out with more fuel but they will go through it a lot more quickly," Wright says.

An SUV that Excels in the City

The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is expected to be rated at between 35-40 mpg on the EPA city cycle - an improvement of at least 75 percent over the EPA city fuel economy rating of 20 mpg for the conventional V-6-powered Ford Escape, the best-selling small SUV in America. Escape Hybrid's fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine combines with an electric drive system to deliver acceleration performance similar to that of the V-6 Escape.

While a conventionally powered vehicle burns fuel and creates emissions while idling at a red light or bogged down in stopped traffic, the Escape Hybrid's engine shuts down at rest to conserve fuel. When the light turns green or traffic moves forward, Escape Hybrid's 70-kilowatt traction motor generator can launch the vehicle on clean electric power. When needed, the generator can smoothly start the gasoline engine in less than 400 milliseconds, without the increased emissions produced in starting up a conventional engine. Escape Hybrid also conserves energy in stop-and-go driving by reclaiming energy during braking to charge its hybrid storage battery to be used later during acceleration.

"Near Zero" Tailpipe Emissions

Escape Hybrid is an extremely clean vehicle to operate, producing 97 percent less hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen emissions than vehicles that meet today's nationwide Tier I emissions standard. That's clean enough to qualify the 2005 Escape Hybrid for the stringent Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards.

Escape Hybrid achieves the AT-PZEV standards by combining an efficient powertrain with an exhaust catalyst system that is very effective at lowering smog-forming emissions.

Indeed, the Ford Escape Hybrid is as environmentally friendly as a vehicle that runs solely on electric power. That's because a battery-electric vehicle needs to be plugged in to be recharged, and that electricity must be generated by a power plant, creating some smog-forming emissions. The Escape Hybrid, on the other hand, never needs to be plugged in. Its battery is continually recharged by an ingenious system that reclaims energy when the brakes are applied.

The Escape Hybrid also produces as little as half the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) - a harmless gas in terms of ground-level air quality but a primary "greenhouse gas" when it drifts into the Earth's upper atmosphere. An accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is widely believed to be producing a global warming effect. CO2 and water vapor are produced in the clean combustion of any type of carbon-based fuel, so the only effective way to reduce a vehicle's CO2 emissions is to reduce the amount of fuel consumed. Fuel-efficient hybrid-electric vehicles can substantially reduce CO2 emissions.

Ford Motor Company and other automakers are working on long-term research projects to someday make practical hydrogen-powered vehicles that will not produce any greenhouse emissions. In addition to the Escape Hybrid, PZEV Focus and Focus Diesel being produced today, Ford has developed a Focus hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2ICE), a hydrogen hybrid research vehicle (H2RV) and a Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) that is operating in demonstration fleets in the U.S. and Canada. Ford is the only automaker with such a full-range of production vehicles and research efforts intended to move society to a hydrogen-powered future.

(April 5, 2004)

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