Ford Airstream Concept
The Ford Airstream Concept is a plug-in electric hybrid hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that turns silver into green. With a combined city / highway gas mileage of 41 mpg, the Ford Airstream combines the best of two iconic companies in a crossover vehicle meant to travel the open road.
The Ford Airstream Concept was built with a HySeries Drive system that runs on electricity only from its 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack for the first 25 miles. After that, the hydrogen fuel cell recharges the battery pack, which in turns delivers power to the electric motors for an additional 280 miles, making the vehicle’s total range 305 miles – not bad for leading edge combined technology.
The Ford Airstream’s HySeries Drive technology was partially funded by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Canadian company Ballard supplied the fuel cell. This is not the first round of development for the HySeries Drive, either, as Ford already has a similar system installed in a Ford Edge prototype that is undergoing a series of test drives. The Ballard fuel cell is smaller, half the price of previous fuel cells and has no problem starting in colder temperatures.
With the crossover vehicle segment expected to hit 3 million units by 2010, Ford decided collaborate with Airstream, a leader since the 1930s in recreational vehicles and the open road travel industry. The design of the Ford Airstream Concept captures the sense of travel and adventure of spacecraft and aircraft design that Airstream founder, Wallace Merle Byam tried to instill since he survived the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 and started selling his travel trailers full-time in 1930. The fuselage of the Ford Airstream Concept is made with special reflective silver paint and 12 ceremonial rivets.
While the outside of the Ford Airstream is an amalgamation of two real world travel icons, the inside design is based upon Stanley Kubrick’s movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Passengers ease into the asymmetrical doors of the Ford Airstream, which also has a hatchback in the rear to complete the crossover concept.
The rear setting area of the Ford Airstream has a lounge atmosphere, decked out in cosmic red and white with a cocoon feel. The focal point in the back is a 360-degree screen for entertainment, games or live camera feed. The screen also offers ambient mood settings such as a virtual fire or a lava lamp.
Upfront, the driver and passenger can both swivel in captain’s chairs and the passenger can watch DVD’s or post mobile blogs. The driver in the Ford Airstream Concept can view a floating instrument panel with touch sensitive controls that offers all of the important information necessary when driving the vehicle. The Sharp dual-view screen centrally mounted provides the driver with a camera view and secondary information about the vehicle’s operation.
Now, imagine a few years down the pike, a cross-country road trip, complete with caffeine and nicotine driving, with the Ford Airstream pulling a “silver bullet” behind and no emissions coming out the tailpipe. Is this the future of long-distance driving or what?