Ford is producing 20 demonstration Escape Hybrid E85 vehicles for use in fleets in six different states. Deliveries will begin this spring.
The demonstration vehicles use hybrid electric power and flex-fuel capability. Escape Hybrid E85 is the world’s first hybrid vehicle capable of operating on blends of fuel containing as much as 85 percent ethanol, according to Ford.
Ford also unveiled a drivable fuel cell hybrid electric plug-in that combines an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries to deliver more than 41 mpg with zero emissions.
The Ford Escape Hybrid would produce about 25 percent less carbon dioxide if operated exclusively on renewable E85 ethanol fuel instead of carbon-rich gasoline.
According to Green Car Congress, a full flex-fuel hybrid application presents additional evaporative challenges, because the vehicle often operates on electric power alone without actuating the evaporative vacuum system that operates when the gasoline engine is in use. Ford engineers are pursuing a number of strategies to address this challenge with the goal of achieving partial zero-emissions vehicle status.
Last year, Ford partnered with VeraSun Energy Corporation to create the Midwest Ethanol Corridor, increasing the number of E85 pumps along two major highways to encourage greater availability of E85 fuel at retail filling stations. Today, E85 is most commonly available in parts of the Midwest.
Ford has committed to making half of its vehicle fleet flexible fuel capable by 2012. It will introduce several new hybrids in the coming years, including a Mazda Tribute Hybrid in 2007 and hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans in 2008.