20 E85-ready Ford Escape Hybrids going to fleet users

Ford is expanding their flex-fuel E-85 activities to the Escape hybrid by delivering twenty examples to fleet users. The flex-fuel Escape is the first hybrid vehicle to have E85 capability. The first three E85 Escapes are going to the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the Governors' Ethanol Coalition. According to Ford the flex-fuel version emits twenty five percent less green house gases when running on E85 than the regular Escape hybrid.

Although Ford has no current plans to put the flex-fuel Escape hybrid into production they are using this program to learn about the issues that may crop up when running hybrids on ethanol. One of the big issues they will have to overcome is evaporative emissions. Ethanol evaporates readily and when the engine is not running the evaporative vacuum pump doesn't run. Then of course there is the issue of getting E85, which probably explains why Ford is doing this test in six states with fleet vehicles that probably won't venture too far afield.

[Source: Ford]

  • 20 Hybrid Electric Flexible Fuel Vehicles will be delivered to fleet customers in six states.
  • Ford is the first to introduce a hybrid capable of running on E85, a domestically produced renewable fuel.
  • The Escape Hybrid Flexible Fuel Vehicle produces 25 percent fewer CO2 emissions than the traditional Escape.
  • This is one example of Ford's efforts to address the twin challenges of energy security and climate change.


WASHINGTON , D.C., June 13 - After months of rigorous testing, Ford Motor Company's demonstration fleet of ethanol-fueled hybrids is ready to conquer the streets. The first three of Ford's E85 Escape Hybrids were delivered today to the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Governors' Ethanol Coalition (GEC).

A total of 20 Ford E85 Escape Hybrids will be delivered to select fleet customers in six states, staking Ford's claim to another important industry first. These are the world's first hybrid vehicles capable of operating on blends of fuel containing as much as 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from American-grown corn or sugar beets.

"As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time," said Sue Cischke, Ford's senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

"Investing in ethanol is critical for our national security, our environment, and for Michigan's economy," said U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). "We can make huge strides by combining a massive effort on ethanol with other technologies such as hybrid cars and advanced diesel technologies. Ford is leading the way by producing the first hybrid car that can run on E85. I hope the E85 Ford Escape Hybrid is the first of many flex fuel hybrids driving us toward energy independence."

"We can and should do more to reduce pollution from vehicles," said U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO). "Ford today is showing its leadership in clean and efficient vehicles with a first-ever hybrid SUV that will also run on bio-fuels. Their decision to assemble it in Kansas City is good news for the able automotive workers in Missouri."

The E85 Escape Hybrid produces about 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline-fueled Escape Hybrid. It also runs on a completely renewable fuel, which can help reduce this nation's dependence on imported oil.

If all of the more than six million flexible fuel vehicles now on America's highways operated on E85, more than 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline could be displaced a year. For its part, Ford has committed to making half of its annual vehicle production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012.

"The Governors' Ethanol Coalition has worked cooperatively with Ford for more than two decades," Nebraska Governor and Coalition Chair Dave Heineman said. "As Ford has developed new transportation technologies, we have been among the first to volunteer to provide Ford with real world testing of their products. We are pleased to work with a storied American vehicle manufacturer as the nation reduces its need for imported oil."

"I commend Ford for stepping up to the plate on this issue," said Bob Dinneen, president of the RFA, the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry. "Americans are fed up with the screaming roller coaster ride of gasoline prices. Ethanol isn't the silver bullet, but having it available will ultimately keep gasoline prices lower than they would otherwise be."

A major challenge in the promotion of renewable fuel use is availability of infrastructure. Less than 1 percent of the 170,000 retail gas stations in the country carry E85 ethanol. Expanding the availability of E85 is a critical element in moving America toward energy independence.

"For ethanol to be a real player in the transportation sector and lessen America's dependence on foreign oil, we need a strong, long-term focus on policies that increase U.S. ethanol production and accelerate E85 infrastructure development," said Cischke. "We also need key partners like the oil industry to invest in developing and marketing renewable fuels, like E85. Without the whole-hearted involvement of the oil industry, we cannot move forward far enough or fast enough."

More to Learn

The Escape Hybrid E85 research project is a learning lab for Ford's FFV programs for 2010 and beyond. Tailpipe emissions of flexible-fuel vehicles still represent one of the biggest challenges and priorities.

Currently, no manufacturer's FFV has been certified as a partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV). And a full-hybrid application presents even more evaporative challenges because the vehicle operates on electric power alone without actuating the evaporative vacuum system that operates when the gas engine is in use.

"Although we currently do not have plans to produce the Escape Hybrid E85, the research from this technology could lead to breakthroughs in even more advanced technologies," said Cischke.

Ford was the first to introduce a hybrid SUV with the Ford Escape Hybrid in 2004. For 2008, hybrid versions of the popular Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans will join the lineup. Last year, the company produced 250,000 ethanol-capable vehicles, including the Ford F-150 and the Lincoln Town Car.

In addition to hybrids and flexible fuel vehicles, Ford is also committed to the development of other advanced alternative fuel technologies. These include hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, clean diesel, advanced powertrains, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen combustion engines.

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