January 5, 2001
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L.A. Auto Show
Ford Escape HEV hybrid debuts
Ford Motor Company’s Escape HEV
concept made its worldwide debut Thursday at the Los
Angeles International Auto Show. The drivable concept
is part of a demonstration fleet the company will put
on the road later this year.
Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. has been selected to be the
exclusive supplier of nickel-metal hydride battery
systems for the Escape HEV.
Ford Escape HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) is designed
to be the cleanest, most fuel-efficient sport utility
on the planet when it goes on sale in 2003. Ford Motor
Company is the first automaker to announce production
plans for a hybrid electric-powered sport utility
The Ford Escape HEV will feature an electric
drivetrain combined with a fuel-efficient
four-cylinder gasoline engine. With regenerative
braking and nearly instantaneous start-stop
capability, the Escape HEV will be especially
fuel-efficient in the city, delivering about 40 U.S.
miles per gallon in urban driving. The hybrid Escape
will be capable of being driven more than 800
kilometres (500 miles) on a single tank of gasoline.
Yet Escape HEV will deliver acceleration performance
similar to an Escape equipped with a V6 engine.
“Escape HEV will be a ‘no-compromise’ family-sized
hybrid electric vehicle that achieves superior fuel
economy and low emissions without sacrificing
performance, roominess or affordability,” says Jim
O’Connor, president, Ford Division.
The Escape HEV will undergo rigorous truck testing.
It will have available 4×4 capability, the same ground
clearance as the base model Escape and comparable
cargo capacity. The Escape HEV will be built on the
same assembly line in Kansas City, Missouri, as the
standard Escape and will be a full-fledged member of
the Ford Outfitters.
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The Escape HEV drive system combines a 65kW permanent
magnetic electric motor and 28kW generator with an
Atkinson cycle variant of the Escape’s Zetec
four-cylinder engine. The Atkinson cycle engine is
significantly more efficient than a conventional
four-stroke Otto cycle engine. The increase in
efficiency is due to controlling pumping losses and
optimizing the expansion ratio, while maintaining a
constant compression ratio. The Atkinson cycle, also
called the “five-stroke cycle” works like this:
intake, back-flow (partial expulsion to eliminate
pumping losses), compression, expansion and exhaust.
Based on this cycle, the combustion chamber volume is
adapted to maintain a constant compression ratio for
each load level while varying the expansion ratio to
optimize efficiency. Low-end torque losses, which are
characteristic of five-stroke cycle engines, can be
overcome with the assistance of an electric drive
motor, making the Atkinson cycle ideal for
The electric drive motor is used to increase the
performance of the internal combustion (IC) engine,
stop and restart the IC engine when the vehicle is at
rest, drive the vehicle at low speeds, recharge the
300-volt traction battery and recapture braking energy
– called regenerative braking. These and other related
technologies have been developed and proven out in
Ford’s P2000 research program.
“We’re applying advanced hybrid-electric technology to
the heart of the American market: the highly popular
sport utility vehicle,” O’Connor says. “The Escape HEV
will be fuel efficient and extremely clean. We’ll also
sell this hybrid-electric SUV in Europe under the
Maverick name, where its nimble driving
characteristics and clean, fuel-efficient operation
should make it especially appealing to European
For more information about the Escape HEV check out