In the time that the Focus FCV was in the AutoBlogGreen garage, it was exposed to a number of people who have never seen it up close before. Several friends and neighbors were shown the car and given rides in it. Universally, everyone who rode in the Focus was impressed by the level of development of this car. The fact that basic behavior of the car was so "conventional" pleased people who are not engineers and no one objected to the start-up time. A number of engineers that I work with also tried out the car, and as professionals who are regularly exposed to prototype vehicles, they were also impressed by the level of refinement of this advanced vehicle.Read on after the jump for the future of hydrogen fuel cells at Ford.
The one question that did come up from everyone was the safety of the hydrogen tank. When he came to pick up the Focus, Mark Olance answered some questions about this and the future of the fuel cell cars at Ford. Regarding the tank, the Focus is fully in compliance with all vehicle safety standards. The tank shell is two inches think and made of aluminum wrapped in kevlar and carbon fiber.
Prototype Focus FCVs have been on the road for about two years now, and a new generation of fuel cell vehicles is currently in development. Mark didn't get into specifics, but did give some general information. The new car is designed from the ground up as a fuel cell vehicle rather being based on an existing vehicle. The new vehicle is a flexible design that can be adapted to different configurations.
Future cars will use a new generation of fuel cells that are able to operate at much lower temperatures without freezing being a problem. Since lead acid batteries and the current NiMH batteries are at the end of their development life-cycle, new battery technologies will be used next time, although specifics were not available.
Ford is moving full steam ahead with new technologies in spite of their financial difficulties. They are fully committed to making cleaner running, more efficient vehicles. They're also actively working together with other companies to develop the necessary infrastructure, to make these new technologies viable. AutoblogGreen will be watching.