Dan Neil - Ford Fusion Hybrid

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Even when Detroit manages to do something right, the timing and execution are off.

    [​IMG]
    On a test drive of a Fusion Hybrid last week in West L.A. traffic, I managed, without much trouble, to get 52 mpg in mixed city-highway driving. Wait, so, has somebody invented the car of the future and didn't tell us?

    By DAN NEIL
    December 19, 2008

    As we know from the works of Cormac McCarthy, despair can be kind of gratifying. And yet, as much as I hate to disturb our national mood of decline, I have some good news regarding the auto industry. You may return to your comfort drinking presently.

    The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, and its twin, the Mercury Milan Hybrid, are mid-to-full-size sedans that seat five in surprising comfort and offer a full-size trunk measuring around 12 cubic feet. They measure 190.6 inches long and weigh a goodly 3,720 pounds. The gas-electric output is 191 horsepower and zero to 60 mph acceleration is under 9 seconds.

    The retail price of a nicely equipped Fusion Hybrid -- with blandishments such as rearview camera, blind-spot alert and 17-inch alloy wheels -- is $27,270. With the applicable federal tax credit, the car should cost consumers about $25,000, I estimate (final numbers have not been announced).

    On a test drive of a Fusion Hybrid last week in West L.A. traffic, I managed, without much trouble, to get 52 mpg in mixed city-highway driving.

    Wait, so, has somebody invented the car of the future and didn't tell us?

    It's a worthy question. The scolding undercurrent of recent congressional hearings on the auto-industry bailout was the notion that Detroit had failed to invest in next-generation technology that could help wean us off foreign oil. Not so. What they did fail to do was sufficiently commercialize this technology so that it was ready and waiting at dealerships when people got stampeded this year by spiraling gas prices.

    Had Ford made a few hundred thousand of these cars available in June -- along with the financing to sell them -- we'd be erecting 50-foot equestrian statues of William Clay Ford and Alan Mulally in city squares, and the streets of Dearborn, Mich., would be repaved with diamond cobblestones.

    As it was, the meme of national incompetence and inferiority vis-a-vis the Japanese carmakers -- Toyota, Honda -- was again reinforced. Of course, Detroit can't build a desirable high-mileage car. We're the country that bungled Iraq and bred a Bernard Madoff, that turned the mortgage market into three-card monte and put Britney back on top. It would seem almost a shame to interrupt the soothing pleasures of such self-pity.

    And yet, here we are, with a car that seemed purely theoretical -- a desirable, affordable, no-compromise sedan that gets 40-plus mpg -- about to show up at Ford dealerships in the first quarter of 2009. Somebody ought to tell Thomas Friedman.

    Now what? Now people have to buy them.

    For all the game-changing glow around the Ford Fusion Hybrid, it's actually a fairly conservative and programmatic approach to gas-electric propulsion. The system is an evolution of the hybrid system in the Ford Escape. The battery is nickel-metal hydride, not lithium (lithium chemistry batteries are lighter and more energy-dense, but they are also expensive and finicky, which is to say, flammable).

    The nickel battery will please many in the green-car movement who argue that the search for the perfect battery -- a la the Chevy Volt -- has only delayed development of the good. ( Edmund Burke said the worst thing a man can do is do nothing because he can do only a little.)

    The Sanyo-supplied battery pack -- 270 volts and 1.4 kWh, if that helps -- is 30% smaller in volume and 23% lighter than the one in the Escape. The smaller battery is easier to cool, requiring only cabin air ducted from underneath the back seat.

    The battery supplies enough glowing ponies to propel the car to speeds up to 47 mph on all-electric power. This is key to the car's in-city mileage. On my 50-mile drive, I was able to feather-foot the throttle enough to accelerate to commuting speeds without waking the gas engine. When I needed to accelerate faster, I could dip in to the engine horsepower briefly to overcome inertia, then maintain momentum with the electric motor. At one stage I was getting 63 mpg.

    To make a full-size car go fast on electric power alone, you need a boatload of voltage. But high-voltage systems involve increased impedance and heat losses, which is wasted energy. To unknot this problem, the Fusion uses a variable-voltage converter that temporarily steps up system voltage during peak demand or hard braking, when the battery is forcefully recharged.

    This is actually one of two high-tech converters on board: The second system provides juice to an array of high-voltage systems such as steering, air-conditioning and brakes.

    There's a lot of other arcane technology that goes into a car, like reams of software code that allow all the various components to talk sweetly to one another. But perhaps the most valuable bit of software is the wetware, the stuff between the driver's ears. To that end, the Fusion Hybrid uses a delightful, LCD instrument cluster with modules that coach drivers on how to save fuel. In one panel, the more lightly you drive, the more leaves that grow on a set of animated vines. You can go from lead-footed, gas-bingeing knucklehead (like me) to abstemious hyper-miler in a matter of minutes. Brilliant.

    So, is this the better mousetrap we've been waiting for? Well, there's a problem. The price of gas has dropped by two-thirds in six months, thereby de-motivating buyers who might have been willing to bear the incremental cost of a hybrid. What we really need is an increased federal gas tax, but the chances of that getting passed in Congress are comparable to my chances of being named Miss Universe.

    Ugh. I'm getting depressed again.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    oh well

    it will sell like hotcakes if gas ever goes back up :o

    ibgasgoesdownmore
     
  3. Benzo

    Benzo OT Supporter

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    Wirelessly posted via wap.offtopic.com (Ducky, Bitches: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile 6.12) UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    o rly
     
  4. ChemicalWhore

    ChemicalWhore OT Supporter

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    still pretty ugly
     
  5. vtec1994

    vtec1994 It always rains at Le Mans

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    I was all :wackit: over the FCX Clarity in Top Gear a few weeks back.
     
  6. The Great Deceiver

    The Great Deceiver 21st Century Schizoid Man

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  7. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    yeah but that's a car you can't buy.
     
  8. Killyin

    Killyin Vicariously I, live while the whole world dies.

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    function > form.
     
  9. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    With the applicable federal tax credit, the car should cost consumers about $25,000
     
  10. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    less ugly than a prius by far though
     
  11. Cjlhdevil

    Cjlhdevil New Member

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    PLASTIC CHROME DOES NOT LOOK GOOD FORD
     
  12. vtec1994

    vtec1994 It always rains at Le Mans

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    :werd:
     
  13. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Active Member

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    Impressive. Hopefully it's reliable, and people buy them :o
     
  14. thumpr

    thumpr someone you trust is one of us OT Supporter

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    how about this... next time they want to roll out a stimulus package, make it like, a $5000 discount off a US-made hybrid
     
  15. BLKDVLGSX

    BLKDVLGSX OT Supporter

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    WE ARE IN THE ERA OF BLING ASS HOLE!!!
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I bet it gets prettier the more gasoline prices go up.
     
  17. bokhan

    bokhan i love you

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    american car companies need to learn how to ADVERTISE.

    99% of all people don't even know the car EXISTS.

    i like how the new fusion looks. :o
     
  18. Cjlhdevil

    Cjlhdevil New Member

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    HOW IS PLASTIC CHROME BLING

    THIS IS BLING

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jacko

    Jacko HEEE HEEE OT Supporter

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    :werd:


    Prius isnt exactly nice to look at, either.
     
  20. YoSmoovKid

    YoSmoovKid New Member

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    Looks better than a fucking Prius.
     
  21. MCohen

    MCohen #NotMyPresident #AmericaIsAlreadyGreat #GoSolar OT Supporter

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    :ugh:
     
  22. YoSmoovKid

    YoSmoovKid New Member

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    Acura TL > * as well...
     
  23. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    :ugh:
     
  24. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

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    I hope they did something with regards to the steering feel. I just had a Fusion rental car in Florida and it was fucking atrocious.

    That, and the wimpy V6.
     
  25. ChemicalWhore

    ChemicalWhore OT Supporter

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    regardless, I would still like a nice looking car with good gas mileage why is that so hard for these car companies to understand.

    I rather just buy a Fit
     

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