AutoBlogGreen Q&A with Greg Frenette, Ford fuel cell chief engineer

Following a recent post about a short drive in a prototype fuel cell powered Ford Focus, some questions were raised in the comments comparing Ford's technology with that of Honda on their FCX fuel cell concept. AutoBlogGreen posed some of these questions to Greg Frenette. Greg is the Chief Fuel Cell Programs Engineer at Ford.

A reminder, the fuel cell Focus has been on the road for almost two years and the fleet has accumulated over 300,000 miles so far. The Focus that is on the road right now is a first-generation, road-worthy fuel cell vehicle. A next generation car is currently under development and will include many advancements and lessons learned from this first generation car. ABG's questions, Greg's answers and more pics are after the jump

Does the Focus use regen braking?

Yes the Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle takes advantage of regen braking.

How big is the battery pack?

I don't have exact dimensions but the Sanyo NiMH high voltage battery pack is packaged under the rear seat.

Can the car operate on battery or is just used for startup? The press material indicates that the car is a hybrid. What does that mean in the context of this application?

The vehicle does not operate on battery alone after start-up (unless the vehicle is in limp-home mode). The battery augments the fuel cell with additional power when the driver requires - example wide open throttle, etc.. This vehicle is truly a hybrid but uses a fuel cell in place of an internal combustion engine as you see in conventional hybrids. Implication of a hybrid design is that you have an additional power source to the fuel cell, can downsize the fuel cell, etc...

What is the approximate cost of a tankful hydrogen?

We use 4kg of H2 which is equivalent to 4 gallons of gasoline from an energy standpoint. The long term goal is that H2 cost no more than gasoline. I'm not sure what today's market prices are for H2 but I would guess the cost is currently running 2-3 times what you pay today for gasoline.

Are the brakes electro-hydraulic or electro-mechanical? The engineer I rode with yesterday said EMB but the press material says EHB. (An EMB system is completely dry and uses no brake fluid. Electrical actuators apply the individual corner brakes in response to the driver's application of the brake pedal. An EHB system uses a hydraulic actuator to apply brake fluid pressure that is applied to conventional hydraulic corner brakes.)

We're running a EHB system on all of the Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles.

The fuel cell components used in the Focus

The underside of the Focus fuel cell

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