|Impressive, though the one I drove was a 4x2, which I
seldom get to drive, it was fun. In June I meet with Jim Castellano, Ford
Escape Hybrid program manager during the pre-launch Escape Hybrid tour of
the country. With $2 gas, the Escape is the first SUV to go Hybrid. And a
true hybrid, developing it's own energy to charge it's batteries from
applying the brakes and run on an eclectic motor alone. Something we did a
lot of in downtown Denver.
this Escape is a interesting tour of technology. With no alternator, and 12
volt everything, like power brake booster, power steering and a 110v outlet
on the dash for my computer, you don't notice much different from any other
Escape. The power in the city and on Interstate 25 fills like a V-6 instead
of the 2.3L 4 banger that it is. But when accelerating the gas engine and
electric motor combine for power and it's all seamless. You don't feel or
hear anything different when transferring from gas power to electric power.
You can look at the energy screen on dash above the radio to see where the
power is coming from.
to the Ford mpg computer onboard, it was getting in the high thirties for
fuel economy in the city and when I was passing people on the freeway with
the power to the pedal, it dropped to the high twenties. In the city stop
and go traffic, I could get over 40 mpg if I braked often. And that is so
cool to have the energy from applying brakes, transfer to the electric
motor, which doubles as an alternator and then takes that free energy from
the brakes and charges the main battery. Think of it as when you use your
engine braking by down shifting to slow you down coming down a hill. That
same kind of force turns the electric motor in the Escape Hybrid producing a
charge from just applying the brakes.
When Ford introduced the Tonka concept truck at the
Detroit Auto Show a few years ago, that would use braking force to transfer
hydrogen to different tanks and then reverse the hydrogen to a different
tank to help launch the truck from a stop. I remember thinking how great
that would be to capture and reuse braking force (free energy that only
produces heat and wear if not used again.)
330v Nickel Metal Hydride battery (left) takes up the floor under the
rear hatch, you don't see it under the carpet. The spare tire is under
the body anyway. But this powerful battery has a 8 year or 100,000 mile
warranty, so no worries. The left rear window panel (right) is vented
for the battery compartment.
And then there's the transmission, a Electronically
Controlled Continuously Variable auto tranny. Think of the main variable
belt drive on older combines or a snowmobile and you get the idea of how it
works. The eCVT has a planetary gear set (like in your farm tractor's rear
axle) that transfers power from the permanent-magnet traction motor (equals
94 hp), or the gas engine (133 hp) or both to power the Escape. You won't
fill it shift because the eCVT matches the engine or motor's power curve.
Talk about efficiency.