WASHINGTON - 'Yours for only $58 million!' No, that's not exactly what Ford Motor Co. Vice President Bill Powers said when he turned the keys of a hybrid-powered family sedan over to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson last week.
The company research chief did say that Ford exceeded the goals of a 1993 contract with the government and produced a vehicle that gets more than twice the fuel economy of comparable, conventionally powered cars on the road today. The contract, subsequently incorporated into the public-private Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, was for $116 million. The cost was split between taxpayers and Ford, but Powers said it's difficult to calculate how much the company invested in research for the P2000 car.
The lightweight, Ford Contour-like sedan is powered by an aluminum 1.2-liter diesel engine, linked to an alternator-starter that assists the engine and collects energy from braking to recharge batteries. Although hybrid-powered Toyota and Honda cars are coming to market in the 2000 model year, Powers said Ford won't produce one until the technology is affordable. The department will use the P2000 for further research.