GIL PORTALATIN: TEAM LEADER GOES FROM DUNE BUGGIES TO HELPING ENGINEER LUXURY FUEL ECONOMY LEADER LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID

GIL PORTALATIN: TEAM LEADER GOES FROM DUNE BUGGIES TO HELPING ENGINEER LUXURY FUEL ECONOMY LEADER LINCOLN MKZ HYBRID


Gil Portalatin, Hybrid Systems Application Manager
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  • Gil Portalatin, hybrid systems application manager, started tinkering with dune buggies as a teenager, then reconditioned a 1962 Ford Falcon for his first car
  • Portalatin helps lead team on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America
  • Native of New York City counts “Bullitt” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds” among his favorite car-themed movies
Like many others in the automobile industry, Gil Portalatin, hybrid systems application manager, developed an interest in cars at an early age. He tinkered in his grandfather’s garage, and then spent a summer learning how to build dune buggies, all the time putting himself on a track to one day engineer cars.
 
But perhaps just as important were the lessons he learned in his neighborhood in New York City. Portalatin, of Puerto Rican descent, describes his surroundings as ethnically diverse, which gave him an understanding and appreciation of all types of people. In some ways, Portalatin’s work with the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid taps into this appreciation of how seemingly disparate components can interact seamlessly and beneficially.
 
In the case of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, it’s creating a system where the gasoline engine and electric motor work in harmony to deliver the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America while also delivering all the components luxury customers look for in a vehicle.
 
“My favorite part was extending the hybrid experience to a different customer base,” said Portalatin, who has worked at Ford for 25 years and has been with the hybrid team almost since the beginning of the program, dating back to 2004. “That was the challenge – to provide the same experiences our Lincoln customers are accustomed to, and still give them great fuel economy.”
 
One unique aspect of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid experience is the human machine interface on the SmartGauge with EcoGuide feature, which gives drivers positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and driving performance through the growth of virtual white apple blossoms on the system’s right-most screen.
 
“It’s a different customer set than Fusion Hybrid – the luxury brand customer needed a unique experience, and the apple blossoms are just one example,” explained Portalatin. “We’ve delivered a knockout product. It’s better than its competition in every way.”
 
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
 
  • During his formative years, Portalatin bought a 1962 Ford Falcon and used his skills to replace a smashed driver-side quarter panel. He later installed a 289-cubic-inch V8 and a four-speed transmission in the Falcon, using it through college. But his main desire was engineering cars, and that’s certainly done at a high level at Ford’s Sustainable Mobile Technology Laboratories, where Portalatin and his team develop hybrid technology – and more
  • Portalatin is a fan of the iconic Ford Mustang, so it’s no surprise that “Bullitt” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds” are his favorite auto-themed movies. He also owns a 1969 Shelby GT500 that he keeps in top condition
  • Yes, a key person for Ford’s hybrid team also likes muscle cars. Part of Portalatin’s job is creating harmony out of what appear to be divergent items. “I really enjoy pushing the envelope on the hybrid technology to find more efficiencies and fuel economy that are cost effective and beneficial to the customer,” he said
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
 

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