Ford Motor Company has rolled out 30 Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) across the U. S., Canada and Europe, logging more than 180,000 miles in test data on the cars. Like many other of the major auto manufacturers who are developing hydrogen cars, one of the biggest challenges has been issues with starting the fuel cell vehicles in cold weather.
The Focus FCVs are powered by Ballard fuel cell stacks and recently overcame this hurdle not by tweaking the fuel cell design, but with a simpler adjustment. According to Greg Frenette, chief engineer of the Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle, “We’ve found with these test vehicles that a majority of fixes were remedied with software, as opposed to having to go in and change hardware. That’s a tremendous advantage, because it is easy to rewrite software.”
Ford engineers receive test data via satellite to their Dearborn, Michigan office every day from the Focus FCVs, which have been wired with sensors and onboard computers. The Focus FCV is also a hybrid vehicle as well and the Sanyo high-voltage battery pack is recharged through regenerative braking via its Teves Electro-Hydraulic Brake (EHB) System.
One has to wonder what sometimes cold & cranky Henry Ford himself would think of this new technology had he been alive today. Then again, like the engineer that he was for Edison Illuminating Company and his own enterprises, he may just be elbow deep in fuel cells and hydrogen storage solutions, figuring out better ways to make high-end cars that the public wants, warming up to the idea of the benefits of new technologies.