Ford Motor Co. will install new, cheaper hybrid-electric engine technology in two vehicles, including the Ford Explorer, by calendar 2004.
"We intend to roll it out to other SUVs as rapidly as the resources of the supply base and our own company will allow,'' Parry-Jones said Tuesday.
Hybrid-electric engines combine internal combustion engines with electric motors to improve fuel economy. The soft hybrid electric motor is smaller and less powerful, Parry-Jones said.
The ISG 42-volt Explorer is powered by a V-6 gasoline engine and an integrated starter-generator, or ISG. The integrated starter-generator replaces the conventional starter and alternator.
"The main difference between the soft and the full hybrid is the amount of time the vehicle spends with electric assist,'' Parry-Jones said. "In a soft hybrid the electric motor is very small, so it spends a relatively small amount of its time assisting the gasoline engine.
"Its ability to move the vehicle is extremely limited,'' Parry-Jones said. "But what it does do is allow us to boost the (vehicle's) launch performance.''
For example, the electric assist allows the gasoline engine to shut off automatically when the Explorer stops at a traffic light but immediately start again when needed.
Ford is trying to halve the $1,000-per-unit cost of the technology before it arrives in the market, Parry-Jones said.
Ford is using full-hybrid technology on the Ford Escape HEV due in 2003.
The soft hybrid technology will be deployed on a future Volvo and the Ford Explorer by 2004. The Explorer application will be high volume, Parry-Jones said. He would not specify the Volvo model.
Ford is trying to achieve a combined city/highway fuel economy of 27 mpg for the ISG Explorer. In contrast, the 5.0-liter V-8 Explorer with automatic transmission achieves 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.