To reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the levels required for carbon dioxide (CO2) stabilization requires the development of fuels with lower fossil carbon content.1 Such fuels could then augment improvements in the fuel economy of our vehicles.
Electrification addresses both energy security and climate change concerns, because electricity can be made from a wide variety of fuels, including domestic sources and renewable energy. Electrification also offers flexibility in tailoring lower-carbon solutions based on locally available fuels and technology options like carbon capture and storage.
Ford foresees a future that includes a variety of electrified vehicles, something we call “Power of Choice.” We are electrifying existing, traditional vehicle lines rather than creating unique electrified vehicle models. This way, our customers can choose from a variety of vehicle powertrains, including hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and full battery electric vehicles. Our comprehensive electrification strategy touches all aspects of the electrification ownership experience, seeking to make it engaging, empowering and easy to live with. Ford is working with partners such as Best Buy, Microsoft and MapQuest to help transition customers easily to a new form of transportation.
In late 2010, Ford delivered the initial units of its first all-electric vehicle – the Transit Connect Electric. Full production of the Transit Connect Electric will ramp up in the U.S. in 2011. Also in 2011, the Ford Focus Electric, Ford’s global, all-electric car, will be sold in 19 initial U.S. markets, then expand to Europe. In 2012, we will launch our next generation of hybrids, which will include the C-MAX Hybrid, the plug-in C-MAX Energi hybrid and another hybrid, all of which will use next-generation lithium-ion batteries. In Europe, we plan to deliver the same five full-electric or hybrid vehicles by 2013.
In early 2011, we announced an innovative charging station for the Focus Electric, developed jointly with Leviton, which allows the Ford Focus Electric to charge in just over three hours when using a 240V charge station installed in the customer’s garage – half the time that it takes our competitors to charge up.
By 2020, we expect that 10 to 25 percent of Ford’s global sales will be composed of electrified vehicles. This includes battery electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, with the majority coming from hybrid vehicles, and plug-in hybrids seeing the most significant share increase.
Expanding electrification holds tremendous promise, but a range of implementation challenges must be considered. These challenges relate to cost, battery technology, the development of charging infrastructure, the interface with utilities and how to ensure that potential emissions-reduction benefits are realized. Ford is working with municipalities and electric utility partners to address many of these challenges.
Please see the Electrification section for a full discussion of electrification issues and our approach to bringing electric vehicles to market.
Biofuel use is expanding globally, with bioethanol made from corn, beets or sugar cane substituting for gasoline, and biodiesel derived from plant oils substituting for diesel fuel. In the U.S. in 2007, federal legislation expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), mandating a significant increase in the use of biofuels by 2022.
While current corn-based bioethanol production in the U.S. is estimated to provide a modest (˜20 percent) reduction in vehicle GHG emissions on a well-to-wheels basis, next-generation biofuels such as lignocellulosic bioethanol could offer up to a 90 percent GHG reduction benefit.2 Building a substantial fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) provides a bridge to the widespread use of lower-carbon biofuels in the future.
Ford has a long history of developing vehicles that run on renewable biofuels. We produced the first flexible-fuel vehicle approximately 100 years ago: a Model T capable of running on gasoline or ethanol. Ford offers 23 models in North America, South America, Europe and Asia that can run on ethanol blends greater than E10 (i.e., containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline). Ford has manufactured more than five million FFVs, including 3 million in the U.S. and nearly 2 million in Brazil.
In Europe, Ford is a market leader and pioneer in bioethanol-powered FFVs, with more than 70,000 vehicles delivered to customers since 2001. Ford FFV models are now available in many European markets that offer a dedicated fuel infrastructure.
In certain Asian markets, Ford offers models that are capable of operating on E20.
In the U.S., we met our commitment to doubling the number of FFVs in our lineup by 2010, and we are continuing to produce substantial numbers of E85 flexible fuel vehicles.
Alternative fuels pose a classic chicken-and-egg problem – automakers can produce a range of products capable of running on fuels with varying carbon content, but the benefits are only realized if energy providers bring the fuels to market and consumers demand both the vehicle and the fuel. Since 2006, Ford has produced more than 1.5 million flexible fuel vehicles. Yet today, less than 2 percent of refueling stations in the U.S. offer E85. And the policy shift to increase ethanol blends rather than increase E85 availability creates questions about the potential growth and viability of E85. Furthermore, the development and production of FFVs increases engineering workload and vehicle cost. This investment into FFVs becomes increasingly difficult to justify, particularly if fuel availability is not developing.
The lack of progress on E85 has increased the focus on mid-level ethanol blends. The potential introduction of such blends creates an opportunity to increase the octane rating of the new fuel. Ethanol has an octane rating greater than today’s gasoline, so that when the fuels are mixed, the resulting fuel blend should have higher octane than base gasoline. Many of today’s advanced engines currently on the road are programmed to improve the efficiency of the engine just short of the point where the consumer would experience engine knock. For such engines, an increase in the octane rating of the fuel would result in improved vehicle efficiency. Further improvement to engine efficiency (through increased compression ratio and downsizing) could be achieved if manufacturers knew the octane rating of the fuel will be increased.
In the long term, we believe that next-generation biofuels made from a variety of feedstocks, including agricultural wastes (particularly lignocellulosic material) will be an important part of the GHG emission-reduction equation and will help address concerns about current-generation biofuels, including the potential competition between food and fuel crops and the conversion of natural lands to fuel production. These issues are explored in more detail in the Sustainable Technologies and Alternative Fuels Plan. To learn about Ford’s perspective on biofuels public policy issues, please see Climate Change Policy and Partnerships.
- Of course, there is not only a need to reduce the fossil carbon content of the fuel itself, but to reduce any fossil-based CO2 emitted during feed-stock excavation, fuel production and distribution.
- Ethanol: The Complete Lifecycle Picture, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, March 2007.
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