Hydrogen-fueled Ford E-450 Buses to Invade Orlandos Roads

By: Kraig Johanssen

The State of Florida together with Ford Motor Company has announced recently that they are putting a fleet of hydrogen-fueled Ford E-450 buses in all of Orlando. It would become the first US city to take delivery of these ultra clean vehicles.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has marked the occasion at the Chevron Hydrogen station which will provide fuel for the eight buses that are powered by internal combustion engines that run exclusively on hydrogen.

Sue Cischke, Ford Senior Vice President for Sustainability, Environment, and Safety Engineering said, "These buses represent part of Ford Motor Company's strategy to deliver transportation solutions that emit less CO2 and reduce our dependence on oil. We are pleased to partner with the State of Florida, Progress Energy and Chevron Hydrogen to place these buses into service so that Central Florida residents will be able to experience this unique form of clean transportation."

Governor Charlie Crist has also expressed his gladness for the new hydrogen buses that they will be receiving. He said, "Today's event demonstrates the incredible level of support hydrogen technology is receiving from our nation's distinguished business leaders. Florida is excited to be a part of these revolutionary advancements and we are embracing the challenges that lie ahead. We are committed as state to be a leader in both the policies and projects that protect our economy and our environment."

The Ford E-450 shuttle buses are powered by a 6.8 liter V10 engine that been supercharged and fine tuned to run exclusively on hydrogen fuel. Of the eight F-450, two of which are to be used by the Greater Orlando Airport Authority (GOAA), and additional two are to be assigned for the Orlando Convention Central District. The remaining four are to be delivered to customers in Florida at a later date. Ford has already delivered five buses to Canada, three of which are in Ottawa while the other two are delivered in Vancouver late of 2006. All in all Ford will deliver a total of 30 buses to customers across North America by the end of this year.

The Ford E-450 shuttle buses in Florida are part of the state's broader plan to move toward a greater application of alternative fuels. And last year, Ford delivered five hybrid hydrogen Ford Focus Fuel Cell vehicles as part of a separate effort with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Progress Energy to gain feedback on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The Technology behind the Internal Combustion Engine
The Ford E-450 was based on the belief of Ford Motor Company that the hydrogen combustion engine technology can serve as a means of allowing hydrogen to become a viable alternative fuel. The use of hydrogen fueled internal combustion engines provides many advantages including high-efficiency, all-weather capability, and near zero emissions of regulated pollutants and greenhouse gases (CO2). And the best thing about hydrogen fueled internal combustion is the fact that they can be hybridized to boost further fuel efficiency.

To further enhance its hydrogen internal combustion engines, Ford is conducting additional research to create its next generation hydrogen internal combustion engines which will include features such as direct injection to improve power and fuel economy.

Ford's strategy for alternative fuels is shaped around multiple technologies that include hydrogen internal combustion engines. Through this approach the company is able to meet its goals in terms of meeting up customer needs, environmental impact and even shareholder interests. However the strategy does not only focus on one catch all solution but offers a wide array of options that includes hybrids, E85 ethanol, clean diesels, bio-diesels, advanced engine and transmission technologies as well as hydrogen fuel cells.

The company has already created a fleet of 30 hydrogen powered Focus fuel cell vehicles that are now being used as part of a world-wide, seven-city program that aims to conduct real world testing of fuel cell technology. The 3-car fleet has already accumulated 500,000 miles of distance traveled since its introduction in 2005. 90,000 of the 500,000 miles have been recorded in Florida.

In addition, Ford---major stockholder of Mazda the producer of top-of-the-line --- is also conducting tests with the world's first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle the Ford Edge with HySeries Drive. The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive makes use of a series electric drivetrain with an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator which gives the vehicle a range 255 miles with zero emissions.

At present, Ford is offering gasoline-electric hybrids that include the Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid which are being employed as taxis in some cities of US. The company will also launched hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan in 2008.

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