Ford is the first automaker in Canada to come to market with a zero-emission, hydrogen-powered vehicle. It is a minibus that could join current vehicle fleets. The Canadian Senate will use three of them on a daily basis to replace gasoline-powered vehicles. At the moment, Ford is preparing seven other similar shuttles for other regions across the country.
A $4.2 million investment
Industry Canada invested $4.2 million in the development of this vehicle as a demo project for the hydrogen technology. Five companies from four different provinces were involved in the project:
1 Dynetek Industries (Calgary, Alberta) manufactured the high-pressure tanks;
2 Ford Windsor Engine Plant (Windsor, Ontario) built the 235-hp 6.8-liter engine;
3 Air Liquide (Montreal, Quebec) supplies the hydrogen that serves as fuel;
4 Les Entreprises Michel Corbeil (Saint-Lin, Quebec) designed the body of the minibus;
5 As for the tests, they were conducted in Northern Manitoba by an unknown firm.
A viable project
With its eco-minibus project, Ford aims to demonstrate the commercial viability of using hydrogen as an alternative fuel to current hydrocarbon-based fuels. The hydrogen technology has many benefits: high efficiency, high output at low temperatures, zero greenhouse gas emissions, etc. It can be paired with hybrid systems to further improve fuel economy.
A long-term solution
Like many other car makers, Ford puts a lot of efforts into the development of green cars to help reduce global warming and our dependence on oil. Among the technologies currently being studied are hybrid vehicles, such as the Ford Escape, fuel cells, hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines, ethanol, clean diesel as well as improvements to regular, gasoline-powered vehicles. Ford already has a fleet of Focus FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) and plans on introducing the Fusion Hybrid in 2008.
While the hybrid technology looks like a temporary (or transitional) solution, the hydrogen technology has all the ingredients to become a long-term, viable solution.