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How Ford is Meeting the Needs of a Changing World
It's a question we have asked ourselves quite often at Ford Motor Company in the past few years as we grappled with the economic, political, social, and technological challenges associated with dramatically improving fuel efficiency and developing advanced alternative powertrains. The answer is "yes," and not only because it's a matter of our survival, but also because we have a responsibility to find solutions that meet society's growing transportation needs, while also caring for our planet.
Ford views these business and social imperatives as opportunities to be a leader in a new transportation revolution. It won't happen overnight but the direction is clear.
The auto industry, unlike others, must meet tough standards around the world that will have a meaningful impact. In the U.S., fuel economy must improve by 40 percent by 2020, which means a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
We supported the adoption of the new U.S. standards enacted last year as an important step in the journey to improve fuel efficiency and diversify away from imported fossil fuels. We have developed a sustainability strategy for the near term, mid term, and long term, focusing on affordable solutions for millions of vehicles - "democratizing" fuel efficient vehicles in the same way the Model T made basic transportation affordable for the masses 100 years ago.
There is no silver bullet. We are pursuing multiple technology paths to reach our goals. Some we can implement now; others hold potential for commercialization down the road.
Our near term efforts, over the next five years, will focus on leveraging existing technologies to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. Beginning in 2009, Ford will introduce EcoBoost, an engine technology that combines direct injection and turbocharging. This technology, combined with new transmission technologies, electric power assisted steering, and better battery management systems, can deliver fuel economy improvements of up to 20 percent, and CO2 reductions of up to 15 percent without sacrificing performance.
By 2012, we will be producing a half a million vehicles equipped with EcoBoost a year across a wide range of vehicles. It means better fuel economy and lower emissions - and the payback for consumers comes far quicker than for other technologies.
We will continue our development of other technologies. Ford believes biofuels, corn ethanol now, and advanced cellulosic biofuels in the future, must be part of the solution.
As the first American automaker to produce a full hybrid, the Escape Hybrid, Ford remains committed to gas-electric vehicles. With three models now on the road and two new hybrids coming within a year, hybrids remain a key piece of our strategy.
Our desire to develop sustainable transportation options is clearly evident in our aggressive research related to plug-in hybrid technology and hydrogen fuel cells. Last year, we delivered our first plug-in hybrid to Southern California Edison as part of a research fleet of 20 vehicles. Together, we are exploring possible new business models along with the technology that may one day lead to the commercialization of plug-in hybrids as an affordable choice for consumers.
But all of our efforts, indeed the efforts of all of the automakers, cannot and will not be the sole solution to climate change and energy independence. We need full participation and partnerships with governments, fuel providers, technology suppliers, and even our customers. Only with long term contributions from all of the key stakeholders will we achieve real and lasting results.
Sue Cischke is Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering at Ford Motor Co.
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