Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sweet Little Mover; Ford Produces a Near-Silent Engine, Fuelled by Air, Water and Electricity

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sweet Little Mover; Ford Produces a Near-Silent Engine, Fuelled by Air, Water and Electricity

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

THE engineers at Ford call it the "sweet spot" - the thing that makes their new multimillion-pound baby hum. It's the moment when, in a triumph of hope, technology and human endeavour, its astonishing Ford Focus FCV Hybrid Fuel Cell vehicle magically surges forward as if propelled by a gust of wind.

At that moment the revolutionary fuel cell that converts hydrogen to electricity and the onboard bank of batteries work in harmony to offer peak performance, whooshing the car along but emitting not a droplet of noxious gas.

I coasted along a road near Ford's Dunton research centre in Essex to discover the sweet spot for myself. On the first attempt, my entry to automotive nirvana failed.

I planted my right foot on the throttle of the ordinary-looking wondercar and, instead of a release of futuristic power through the wheels, I was greeted with a "thunk" that triggered a dashboard warning light and a trip to the man with the spanner.

Refettled, we tried again and were rewarded with instant access to the place few motorists have been before.

A steady stream of near-silent power wafted us to 50mph as a foretaste of what Ford hopes will soon become commonplace on UK roads.

All that took us there (discounting many millions of pounds and several years' worth of development) was a combination of air, water and electricity and a remarkable fuel cell in the car's underbody.

Ford still admits it is a decade or so away from putting this revolutionary car on the market. Next year, however, it will introduce a small fleet of production Focus FCVs that will go into service with selected customers in Europe, Canada and the US.

This month its project partner, BP, is opening a hydrogen "pump" at its filling station in Hornchurch, Essex, for use by a specially adapted fleet of buses, so it seems that the automotive makers and shakers are serious about this clean form of propulsion.

FORD is secretive about the innermost workings of the Focus FCV, refusing to say how much it has cost so far or even to discuss how many people are working on the project. …

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