Ford’s New Fuel Cell Powered Explorer

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The fuel cell Explorer is the
first in a series of hydrogen-powered vehicles to
come from Ford Motor Company with funding from the
U.S. Department of Energy




Ford Motor Company
is raising the bar in the hydrogen fuel cell race
unveiling an all-new fuel cell powered Ford Explorer
at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. The fuel cell
Explorer can travel 350 miles on a single fill-up,
more than any fuel cell vehicle on the road.


The fuel cell Explorer prototype is part of a
series of vehicles partially funded by a contract
with the United States Department of Energy and is
the first vehicle to be publicly unveiled. The goal
of the Technology Demonstration Vehicle program is
to find a pathway for a fuel alternative to
petroleum that has less environmental impact than
current powertrain technology.

“We believe
hydrogen may become a viable motor fuel in the
long-term,” said Gerhard Schmidt, vice president,
Research & Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Company.
“With these technology demonstration vehicles, Ford
continues to lead the way in the development of
hydrogen technology.”

The fuel-cell Explorer
comes equipped with the currently available advanced
electric all-wheel-drive system, though a
center-mounted hydrogen storage tank now occupies
the space typically used for the 6-speed automatic
transmission found in production Explorer
models.

Locating the hydrogen storage tank in
this area allowed engineers to design a larger tank
and deliver a never-before-achieved 350-mile driving
range for a fuel cell vehicle. This unique design
maintains Explorer’s six-passenger seating
arrangement and the cargo capacity found in the
production Ford Explorer.

In less than one
year, the fuel cell Explorer has accumulated more
than 17,000 miles, including a world-record drive of
1,556 miles in a single 24-hour period, the most of
any fuel cell vehicle to date. The record was set
by Ford engineers at the new Dearborn Development
Center test facility in Dearborn, Mich.

In
January, at the 2007 North American International
Auto Show, Ford will unveil the next vehicle in this
series of demonstration vehicles.

Ford
first began working on hydrogen technology in the
early 1990s. Ford’s first hydrogen fuel cell
vehicle, released in 2001, was based on a
lightweight aluminum sedan body, which also was
used in the development of the company’s first
hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.


The company currently has a fleet of 30
hydrogen-powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the
road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to
conduct real-world testing of fuel cell
technology. The fleet has accumulated more than
300,000 miles since its inception. With this
fleet on the ground, a great deal of information
that can be integrated into future fuel cell
vehicle propulsion systems is being generated in
different local environmental conditions.


Having the fleet outside the confines of Ford
Motor Company also has allowed the team to gain
valuable feedback on servicing vehicles in the
field. As a hydrogen infrastructure is developed
and implemented for the fleet at each location,
lessons learned are being generated to insure that
the customer and hydrogen fueling interface is
seamless and customer friendly.

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