Ford Super Chief sips three fuels

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It appears Ford will again come out on top in 2005 with the F-150 in terms of sales, so what better way to celebrate than with a gargantuan truck concept sporting some trick powerplant technology. The Ford Super Chief runs on the world’s first Tri-Flex fuel engine, a supercharged V10 capable of running on hydrogen, E85 or gasoline.

Ford claims this type of engine makes perfect sense as an interim powerplant until the nation builds a proper infrastructure for the commercial delivery of E85 and in the future hydrogen. When the Tri-Flex V10 is running on hydrogen it achieves a 12% improvement in fuel economy over a non-S/C gas V10 and can go 500 miles between fill ups.

More commentary, official pics and the full press release from Ford after the jump…

The Super Chief also features Ford’s new underride protection system called BlockerBeam that prevents smaller cars from riding up under the big rig during a crash while better dissipating the resulting energy between the two vehicles.

The bold exterior wrapped in a stainless style-type skin is accompanied by perhaps the most opulent truck interior ever that features a glass roof bisected by a leather-wrapped grid and automated ottomans for weary rear passengers. Of course, in order to fit all that opulence an extra two feet had to be “reaollocated” (Fordspeak for “chopped off”) from the standard eight-foot the bed.

DETROIT, Jan. 8, 2006 – The Ford F-250 Super Chief concept takes truck leadership to a new level – as the world’s first vehicle with Tri-Flex fueling, enabling the supercharged V-10 to run for 500 miles between fill-ups on hydrogen, E85 ethanol or gasoline.

The tri-fuel flexibility is one possible innovation by Ford to help pave the way for hydrogen vehicles, as the nation’s ethanol and hydrogen fueling infrastructure continues to develop.

The concept truck and its name are inspired by the bold, American Super Chief trains of the nation’s past. Super Chief  is Ford’s most advanced, well-appointed pickup ever – designed to build on the standard for interior excellence established by the new F-150.

Super Chief features an interior paneled in American walnut, brushed aluminum and bold brown leather. Convenience features include bold light-emitting diode (LED) headlamps, a full glass roof and automated ottoman.

Technology Innovation in a Bold American Wrapper
The Ford F-250 Super Chief concept boldly foretells a new era for pickup trucks that Ford intends to lead with bold, American design and innovation – as it has for nearly three decades.

F-250 Super Chief pays tribute to the bold optimism that is part of the American character,” says Peter Horbury, executive director, North America Design. “The F-250 Super Chief’s innovations pave a new path for the American truck. It’s a notion – and a modern design – so bold, it could only come from Ford.”

Running on hydrogen, the supercharged V-10 engine provides up to 12 percent fuel economy improvement on an energy equivalent basis versus a non-supercharged gasoline V-10 – and nearly 500 miles per fill-up. In addition, when operating on hydrogen, the Tri-Flex V-10 generates 99 percent less CO2 emissions than when running on gasoline.

Hydrogen is the ultimate clean fuel of the future. It is not only the cleanest fuel, it is the most abundant element on Earth. E85 ethanol is a domestic, renewable, greenhouse gas-friendly fuel.

“The Tri-Flex fuel engine encourages the development of the hydrogen fuel infrastructure for the best future mobility solution,” says Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. “It also drives the expansion of the domestic ethanol E85 fuel production and availability and, of course, provides our customers the convenience of gasoline until these other fuels become more readily available.”

The Tri-Flex system leverages existing powertrain technologies in which Ford has long held leadership. Since 1996, Ford has led in production and sales of flex-fuel E85 ethanol/gasoline vehicles. Ford has built more than 1.6 million flex-fuel vehicles that operate on any mix of E85 and gasoline. 

In December 2005, a flex-fuel capable version of the F-150 pickup went into production. Ford has committed to building more than 250,000 flex-fuel vehicles in 2006. Ford flex-fuel vehicles offer the customer convenience of filling one tank with E85 and/or gasoline. 

The transition from hydrogen fuel power to either E85 or gasoline is handled seamlessly through a dashboard-mounted switch and can occur while the vehicle is in operation. Transition from either E85 or gasoline to hydrogen requires that the vehicle be at idle to allow for proper engagement of the supercharger, which only operates when the vehicle is powered by hydrogen.

Safe and Comfortable
While the F-250 Super Chief has plenty of innovative tricks under its hood, it embraces several of Ford Motor Company’s advanced safety technologies to help ensure that occupants’ travels are not only comfortable, but also safe.

Safety technology such as BeltMinder™ and BlockerBeam™ are among the innovative features on the F-250 Super Chief. BlockerBeam™ provides enhanced frontal crash compatibility with cars on the road, and Ford’s patented BeltMinder™ technology will alert the driver when occupants are not buckled up.

BeltMinder™ goes further than the federally required safety belt reminder chiming system. In Ford vehicles, the driver or front passenger who remains unbuckled is regularly reminded to buckle up.

The system chimes and flashes a warning lamp for six seconds every 30 seconds for five minutes or until the driver buckles up, whichever comes first. The second-row BeltMinder™ technology will now be able to alert the driver when second-row passengers have not buckled their safety belts.

In addition, Ford’s unique frontal crash enhanced underride protection system – called BlockerBeam™ – could make the F-250 Super Chief more compatible with cars. The system helps F-250 Super Chief and a car better share energy during a crash.

During a frontal collision with a car, the BlockerBeam™ is designed to make contact with the frame rails of a car in an effort to prevent the car from sliding beneath the higher-riding vehicle.
Upon impact, the L-shaped brackets bend, helping to disperse crash energy. This reduces the amount of intrusion into the passenger compartment of the car and further reduces the risk of serious injury to the car's occupants.

Bold, American Exterior Design
The Ford F-250 Super Chief concept projects the next level of rugged elegance for full-size pickups, further stretching the world-famous F-Series lineup past the F-250 Super Crew and F-250 King Ranch.

“Ford has been the truck leader for so long, no one can remember it being any other way,” says J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer. “The F-250 Super Chief boldly restates our leadership with a quintessentially American truck.”

The F-250 Super Chief's locomotive-inspired front-end appearance sets the tone, complemented by its bold, imposing grille. 

The pattern of the headlamps echoes the motif of the interior’s coffered ceiling, with five-element/four-emitter LEDs behind the optics.

Below the headlamps, sturdy tow hooks are integrated into the fog lamps for a multifunctional look.

Even more pronounced from the profile is the truck’s substantial cabin. Based on an F-250 Super Duty with an 8-foot-long bed, F-250 Super Chief designers reallocated 2 feet of bed space for the passenger compartment, which is accessible through center-opening doors.

The F-250 Super Chief’s rear doors can be opened independently of its front doors. An electronic release first extends the rear three-pivot hinges out and slides them back slightly to open the rear doors; an electronic motor pulls them closed.

Expressive details add beauty as well as functionality. The sculpted cowling serves as an air intake for the V-10 engine, while pronounced vents exhaust heat from the engine bay.  Pronounced flares house the truck’s 24-inch wheels, and Goodyear tires firmly plant the truck on the ground.

In the rear, the tailgate hinges on both sides for greater utility.  Inside the bed, a wood-planked bed floor is ribbed with raised metal rub strips for easy cargo loading. In addition, there’s an under-bed storage tray, which can be accessed even when the cargo bed is full.

Interior Indulgence
The F-250 Super Chief concept delivers an interior design that’s rugged as well as elegant in  three materials: American walnut, brushed aluminum and rich brown leather.

“Well-appointed vehicles are nothing new,” Mays says. “But, as premium amenities and finishes become more ordinary, we wanted to push the envelope and show our truck customers – and our competitors – what a truly upscale, distinctly American pickup might look like.”

The entire roof of the F-250 Super Chief is glass, bisected by a leather-wrapped grid of American walnut, allowing vista views. The walnut, outlined in aluminum, lines the truck’s floors as well, carrying through the design execution of the pickup bed. Viewed from above, through the glass roof, the floor is smooth and integrated from cabin to the bed.

Rear seats allow for relaxation aided by ottomans that deploy from the floor space.

The seats have separate cushions for the seat bottoms and the backs, as well as individual integrated armrests that are not part of the rear door panels.
The leather for the seats – as it is throughout the rest of the cabin – is Spinneybeck, aniline-dyed in a rich brown.

“While the F-250 Super Chief is an extreme example of interior indulgence, our experience with trucks has shown that customers want more interior comfort and amenities than ever,” says Horbury. “The current F-150 demonstrated that as far as we were willing to go on interior comfort and design, our customers may be willing to go further.

“The Ford F-250 Super Chief concept allows us to better gauge where the high end of rugged elegance just might be.”

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