Ford showcases world’s first driveable fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle

Ford Motor company showed off what they’re calling the world’s first driveable fuel cell electric plug-in car. The Ford Edge with their Hyseries Drive uses an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries to achieve more than 41 mpg with zero emissions. The car also has the ability to recharge its batteries via plug-in.

The concept has other options too: “This vehicle offers Ford the ultimate in flexibility in researching advanced propulsion technology, said Gerhard Schmidt, vice president of research and advanced engineering for Ford Motor Company.  We could take the fuel cell power system out and replace it with a down-sized diesel, gasoline engine or any other powertrain connected to a small electric generator to make electricity like the fuel cell does now.”

With the fuel cell configuration, which is a “real-world” version of the powerplant envisioned in the Ford Airstream shown earlier this month at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, the Edge gets a combined city/highway equivalent fuel economy rating of 41 mpg. If you drive less than 50 miles each day, the average jumps to more than 80 mpg. When the battery gets discharged to about 40% of capacity, the hydrogen fuel cell starts and automatically begins to recharge the batteries.

But don’t look for one in your showrooms yet

“Certainly, many significant technical hurdles need to be overcome before a vehicle such as the Edge with HySeries Drive can become a reality. Fuel cell vehicles remain expensive, costing millions of dollars each. And the single biggest hurdle to plug-ins remains the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Much work also needs to be done to make fuel cells more durable and to create a hydrogen infrastructure.”

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