While Ford's new Fusion Hybrid is designed to put money back into the pockets of fuel-conscious consumers, some patent attorneys may also be a little more flush as well.

The development of the model, set to debut later this year, helped Ford boost its number of patents related to hybrid powertrain technology to almost 500, reflecting the U.S. automaker's investment in fuel-saving electric-drive technology.

Ford had just 10 hybrid patents in 2000 and about 30 patents two years later. Many of those patented components will be in the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid-electric, which will debut later this year.

Ford's looking for the Fusion Hybrid to reinvigorate the company's hybrid-electric vehicle sales. Ford's hybrid sales rose just 1.4 percent last year despite the challenges that competitor Toyota had supplying its hybrids to the U.S. because of production issues from parts of tsunami-ravaged Japan, and Toyota's January hybrid sales plunged 35 percent from a year earlier.

The Fusion Hybrid was Ford's best-selling hybrid in the U.S. last year, though the model's 11,286 units sold marked a 6.5 percent drop from a year earlier. Ford unveiled the 2013 Fusion Hybrid at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month and said the model may get about 45 miles per gallon combined. That would put the model's fuel economy at about four miles per gallon ahead of the recently re-introduced Toyota Camry Hybrid.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 1 Day Ago
      Although I have been underwhelmed by Ford's electric vehicles, it seems to me that they have their heart much more in plug-in hybrids, and with the Maxi Energi and the Ford Fusion plug in coming they should have one of the best ranges available, and both will still offer a good trunk unlike the Focus EV. The Maxi in particular will offer good accomodation for 5 people, and the Fusion should be a worthy alternative for those preferring a sedan. If they are priced competitively then their release in the autumn should be quite a landmark.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      Take THAT, Toyota.
        JeremyD
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Spec
        +1 Too many people think the FFH and past Ford hybrids are 100% Toyota technology... simply not true. Ford and Toyota recently agreed to share Hybrid tech. They both are at the forefront of Hybrid and EV tech.
          skierpage
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JeremyD
          No, years ago Ford licensed 21 patents from Toyota in exchange for patents relating to emissions technology. Toyota and its supplier Aisin make ALL of Ford's Powersplit transmissions. It's unclear if that changes with Ford's 2013 cars.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 1 Day Ago
      patents are bad, mkay?
        solas
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        see below, mkay?
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 1 Day Ago
          @solas
          I wouldn't say it if there was obvious exception. the world would be a much better place if all patents were forever made null and void
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 1 Day Ago
      Um.. yah.. hooray for patents.
      Nick
      • 1 Day Ago
      This alone will bring in millions....
      Arun Murali
      • 1 Day Ago
      45 MPG overall from such a big car. Well I want to see that happen. I hope Ford also realizes that price point is also as important as MPG's for it to sell well.
      Taggart
      • 1 Day Ago
      It doesn't make sense to compare the Camry hybrid to the Fusion hybrid--or the Sonata hybrid, for that matter. The Fusion and Sonata hybrids use much more powerful Lithium-ion technology, which can provide enough energy to drive the car at highway speeds, as opposed to Nickel hydride batteries, and for longer periods of time at that. So in hybrid mode, the internal combustion engine teamed with Li battery does not have to work as hard as an engine teamed with a Ni hydride battery--meaning greater MPG figures for Lithium-ion hybrids like the Sonata and 2013 Fusion. There's an Infiniti M commercial that boasts of 32 MPG with their hybrid, with no compromise on performance. They kind of want you to compare that to the current Fusion and Camry hybrids, which use Ni, but the Infiniti uses Lithium so it's not a great feat to get the 32 MPG, even in such a big car. What IS a great feat is to wring 43 MPG in a hybrid using older, weaker Ni hydride batteries, which Toyota managed to do with their newest Camry.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Day Ago
      Now if only they were a leader in electric vehicles then they might have something useful.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Day Ago
      More Patents do NOT equal more technology. Just smarter lawyers that realize to it is better to patent every little unique component... so that anybody else coming along would face a litigation nightmare that would discourage competition.
        solas
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        If you are saying many of these patents are most likely frivolous and in fact do NOT cite something unintuitive to one skilled in the art, I'd agree. If you are saying the US patent office is foobar'd, and allows frivolous patents through ... mostly from large companies who send an army of lawyers to Virginia, beating the patent office into submission, I'd agree. If you are saying patents are bad, in general ... clearly you haven't studied the history of patents, and the ramifications of a world where they don't exist, at all.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        And if they can either block competitors from the marketplace or license their patents and drive up the cost of competing products. With less competition consumers will end up paying more for less capable vehicles.
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