Ford is going all in on fuel-saving, earth-saving technology. That means heading toward fully electric vehicles and autonomous tech. But, for now at least, Ford is in a transitional state. Affordable batteries simply cannot deliver the kind of performance and driving range that someone expects from an F-150 or Escape. On top of that, the electric charging infrastructure in many parts of North America remains very poor. While it doesn’t make sense for Ford to go fully electric, the case for Ford’s hybrid vehicles is growing stronger by the day.
There are two main types of hybrids: plug-in and non plug in. But we’re not going to focus on plug-in hybrids for two reasons. First, plug-in hybrids aren’t practical in Saskatchewan because our charging infrastructure is terrible. Regina has approximately eight charging stations and Saskatoon only has seven. A few charging stations are located in small towns. But you won’t feel confident driving any significant distance.
Secondly, even if you have an all-electric vehicle, you aren’t saving the planet. That’s because, embarrassingly, more than 80% of Saskatchewan’s energy comes from fossil fuels. I guess our province doesn’t have enough space for wind turbines. Regardless, it’s clear all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are not y
et pragmatic choices for Saskatchewan drivers. So, let’s focus on the more popular, non-plug in, hybrid powertrains.
Hybrids have one traditional gasoline engine and one electric motor. In different driving scenarios one, or both, of these engines will active. Typically, hybrid vehicles usually only operate in electric-only mode at very low speeds. When you don’t need much power, you may as well not consume any fuel. Idling becomes emission-free. However, when you accelerate up to speed, both the gasoline engine and electric motor will typically be engaged to meet the increased power demand.
However, once you begin cruising, the electric motor will likely be shut off. Only the gasoline engine will operate, providing power to your drivetrain and also generate energy that is stored in the battery. At stable, higher speeds, your gasoline engine is most efficient – most people know they consume less fuel on the highway as compared to the city. Finally, every time you brake, regenerative braking systems recapture the heat generated by braking friction. That energy is then used to replenish the battery.
You may not have seen too many Ford C-Max’s around Canada, but they do exist (really!). The hybrid car shares a footprint/platform with the Escape and Focus, but it’s powertrain is totally unique. The Ford C-Max packs a 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine. As you might expect, it gets stellar fuel economy: 5.7 city/ 6.2 highway /5.9 combined L/100km. What you might not expect is that it still manages to push out an impressive 141 horsepower. With the success of the Fiesta and Focus, it’s somewhat surprising that the C-Max isn’t more popular. In a steadily urbanizing country with unstable gas prices and increased environmental conscientiousness, you’d think customers would demand great hybrids.
The stylish Fusion sedan also offers a hybrid powertrain. It has the same engine C-Max, so it delivers the same horsepower, 141, and comparable fuel economy: 5.5 L/100km city, 5.6 L/100km hwy, 5.5 L/100km combined. Of course, the Fusion’s extra size and weight prevent that horsepower from stretching quite as far with the C-Max, Still, for the average commuter, there is more than enough power to justify the incredible fuel savings.
Environmentally conscious pickup enthusiasts rejoice! At the beginning of 2017, Ford also announced that it’s developing an F-150 hybrid for release in 2020. The F-150 hybrid will deliver powerful towing and even allow drivers to use their electric motor as a worksite generator. Ford is creating a hybrid Mustang, too. After that, Ford will begin working toward exclusively electric vehicles.
As the world (slowly, so slowly) moves away from fossil fuels, Ford is hoping to lead the development of hybrid tech. Do you drive a hybrid? Would you consider driving one? Let us know in the comments.