Thursday, June 29, 2006

So Much for the Kinder, Greener Image of Ford

Ford will do hybrid R & D in Sweden, but apparently it won't produce hybrids for the US. 

I'm a little confused.  I think Ford believes that Americans don't want hybrids, but Europeans do. 

At any rate, American car manufacturers seem to have their heads firmly in the sand. 

HT Green Car Congress. 

Ford to Establish Hybrid Development Center in Sweden; Volvo Cars to Invest $1.4 Billion in Environmental R&D

30 June 2006

Ford Motor, through its subsidiary Volvo Cars, announced it will establish a development center for hybrid systems in Gothenburg, Sweden, to serve Ford’s Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe business units.

In a related announcement, Volvo said that it will invest SEK 10 billion (US$1.4 billion) in environmental R&D to improve fuel economy and tailpipe emissions of its global fleet.

Hybrid development center. The hybrid development center will have overall responsibility for the application of hybrid systems into Volvo Cars vehicles globally as well as for ensuring Ford of Europe and brands from Ford’s Premier Automotive Group are able to apply core hybrid systems into their own product plans.

The center will be staffed initially by a mix of 20 leading engineers from both Volvo Cars and other brands from the Ford Motor Company group.

Part of a global initiative by Ford Motor Company to speed the introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the new hybrid development center will build on the experience and expertise that Volvo Cars has built up over many years in developing advanced environmental technology systems, including some of the early hybrid systems, that eventually made their way into the world’s first hybrid SUV, the Ford Escape.

We are very pleased that Ford Motor Company has decided to establish a development-center for hybrid technology in Gothenburg. This shows a strong belief in Volvo Cars and our ability to deliver results in future advanced technologies and underline the fact that Sweden has all the pre-requisites for research and development excellence.

“The hybrid cars of tomorrow will be more sophisticated and much further developed compared with what we see on the road today. And it is likely that we will find high-performance hybrids running on diesels and renewable fuels.

—Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation

The center’s location will ensure that hybrid technology development at Ford Motor Company takes into account different market trends and customer preferences in regions around the world. While the new center will be located in Gothenburg, each brand within Ford European operations will be responsible for applying new technologies to their own product portfolios.

The team at the new hybrid center will also work closely with Ford’s hybrid development team in Detroit, Michigan, to ensure optimum global alignment and economies of scale.

Environmental R&D. In a linked announcement, Volvo Cars announced the investment of SEK 10 billion (US$1.4 billion) in environmental research and development. The aim is to reduce the total fuel economy and tailpipe emissions of the global Volvo Cars fleet.

The investment initiative will focus primarily on:

  1. The development and deployment of cleaner, more efficient diesel engines, hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles;

  2. The use of light, strong materials like magnesium, aluminium and lighter high-strength steel; and

  3. The introduction of smaller vehicles, while continuing to meet customer expectations for safety in Volvo Cars.

At the Challenge Bibendum 2004, Volvo introduced the 3CC electric concept car, a 3-seater prototype electric vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery. (Earlier post). At the Challenge Bibendum 2006, Volvo introduced the Multi-Fuel, an extremely clean engine offering high performance, which can run on five fuels (bio-methane; bio-ethanol; natural gas; gasoline and hythane, a mixture consisting of 10 percent hydrogen gas and 90 percent methane gas). (Earlier post.)

Previously, we were able to solve several major environmental problems ourselves with the help of skilled engineers and advanced technology. Today however, our biggest environmental problems—increased carbon dioxide emissions and climate change—require much more than just technical solutions from individual car manufacturers.

All of society has to be involved: decision-makers the world over must pursue sustainable policies, the production and distribution of renewable energy must be improved and last but not least, consumers must to an ever-increasing extent dare—and want—to invest in environmental technology.

Volvo Cars will be an active partner in the highly complex challenge facing society. Our role is to be a premium supplier of sustainable mobility solutions.

—Fredrik Arp

The Volvo Car Corporation, with its head office in Gothenburg, Sweden, has been a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company since 1999. Volvo has approximately 27,000 employees around the world.

Sierra Club Statement by Dan Becker, Director, Global Warming Program

WASHINGTON - June 29 - Yesterday, Bill Ford announced in an email to Ford Motor Company employees that Ford was walking away from its promise to produce 250,000 hybrid vehicles annually by the end of the decade. Instead, as Ford also announced yesterday in a letter with GM and DaimlerChrysler to Congress, it intends to focus on doubling its production of flexfuel vehicles.

“We were pleased to applaud Ford when it made a promise to build 250,000 hybrid vehicles annually by 2010. Today we are appalled that Ford is abrogating this promise. Ford is rapidly becoming the automaker that cried wolf. In 2000, Ford promised to increase the fuel economy of its SUVs by 25% over five years; it walked away from that promise in 2003. By swapping out more clean and efficient hybrids for more flexfuel vehicles, Ford is engaging in a classic bait and switch. Even the Bush administration admits that flexfuels run on regular gasoline 99% of the time, since E85 is only available at an infinitesimal .003% of the nation’s gas stations. Instead of taking concrete steps to save consumers money at the pump by giving them efficient hybrids, Ford is saddling consumers with the same gas guzzlers that will run on the same gasoline they have for the past 100 years.

“Ford already has the least efficient fleet of the Big 6 automakers and it can and should do better than simply using clever marketing to disguise its exploitation of the SUV-sized flexfuel vehicle loophole in the CAFE law. This loophole allows Ford and other automakers to make more gas guzzlers than the already weak CAFE law would allow if they simply make a certain number of flexfuel vehicles—even though the vast majority of these vehicles never actually run on E85.

“I am particularly disappointed that Bill Ford himself delivered this unfortunate news. He and his company have repeatedly claimed—using multi-million dollar ad campaigns—to be environmental champions that were working toward cleaner and more environmentally sound choices for consumers. We now know that Ford Motor Company cannot be relied upon to tell the truth or even to compete effectively with the more efficient fleets of foreign competitors like Honda and Toyota. It is also becoming clear that Bill Ford himself is either unable or unwilling to live up to his own commitments to the environment.

Agriculture, Air Quality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Sustainability, US | Permalink

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