TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. is strongly committed to hybrid vehicles, Phil Martens told the Management Briefing Seminars on Thursday.
Fords group vice president for product creation also endorsed combining hybrids with other advanced powertrain technologies, and said Ford would use hybrids to boost fuel economy rather than performance.
Hybrids generate terrific interest in the marketplace worldwide. Building hybrids also meets our internal mandate for sustainability, he said. Building hybrids is the right thing to do.
Fords coming Fusion hybrid will be a second generation hybrid, Martens said.
In the near term, he said, Wed like a (hybrid) powerpack system we could use in multiple vehicles around the world with Ford brands.
Martens said Fords planned hybrids would focus on improving fuel economy rather than boosting performance. We think thats where people in general are buying hybrids, he said. We dont have plans to do performance hybrids per se.
There are a lot of people who want a (mid-sized or large) sedan that gets more than 40 mpg, he said.
Martens predicted an exploratory convergence of technologies over the next five to seven years. This could combine, say, a diesel-electric hybrid with a turbocharger. With such a combination, he said, youre approaching what a fuel cell does at a fraction of the cost.
Alternatively, direct-injection gasoline engines, used in hybrids with turbochargers, could provide similar fuel economy, performance and emissions as diesels, he said. But you can do it at lower cost.
Developing hybrids also changes Fords business practices, Martens said.
You have to do things differently. Software becomes a paramount measure for success. You have to do product development in a different cadence, he said.
You have to work with suppliers more closely than ever before. That is a tremendous opportunity to change the relationship, he said. Ford wants to work with two or three long-term suppliers and develop the technology base, he said.
Ford employees like working on hybrid technology, he said.
People want to be part of the hybrid team. But the shortage of qualified engineers capable of developing hybrids brings other problems.
Theres a lot of headhunting going on, Martens said. Its as bad as Ive ever seen it.
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