Ford's New 52 MPG Hybrid

The Pulitzer-prizing winning auto columnist for the LA Times reviews the hybrid version 2010 Ford Fusion - a car that shows Washington it is on the right track, even if a tad late. Neil highlights the importance of its nickel battery technology.
December 22, 2008, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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"On a test drive of a Fusion Hybrid last week in West L.A. traffic, I managed, without much trouble, to get 52 mpg in mixed city-highway driving.

Wait, so, has somebody invented the car of the future and didn't tell us?"

For all the game-changing glow around the Ford Fusion Hybrid, it's actually a fairly conservative and programmatic approach to gas-electric propulsion. The system is an evolution of the hybrid system in the Ford Escape. The battery is nickel-metal hydride, not lithium (lithium chemistry batteries are lighter and more energy-dense, but they are also expensive and finicky, which is to say, flammable).

The nickel battery will please many in the green-car movement who argue that the search for the perfect battery -- a la the Chevy Volt -- has only delayed development of the good.

So, is this the better mousetrap we've been waiting for? Well, there's a problem. The price of gas has dropped by two-thirds in six months, thereby de-motivating buyers who might have been willing to bear the incremental cost of a hybrid. What we really need is an increased federal gas tax, but the chances of that getting passed in Congress are comparable to my chances of being named Miss Universe."

Thanks to Mike Keenly

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Published on Friday, December 19, 2008 in Los Angeles Times
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