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DEARBORN, MI -- When it debuts in 2003, the Ford Escape HEV sport utility vehicle will feature a new PowerSmart transaxle system that will offer improved power, performance and fuel economy compared to hybrid electric vehicles currently on the road.

This is achieved through improved initial acceleration in electric launch -- when the vehicle takes off using the electric motors and battery -- and improved overall system efficiency during highway driving.

The system was developed by Ford and Aisin AW, based in Aichi, Japan.

"The Escape HEV addresses all of the customers' environmental concerns without asking them to give up anything such as performance, styling and utility,'' said Prabhakar Patil, chief engineer, Ford Escape HEV Program.

Escape HEV combines an electric motor and fuel-efficient, four-cylinder gasoline engine and is designed to be the most fuel-efficient sport utility on the planet.

With regenerative braking and nearly instantaneous start-stop capability, the Escape HEV will be especially fuel efficient in the city, delivering nearly 40 miles per gallon in urban driving. The hybrid electric Escape will be capable of being driven more than 500 miles on a single tank of gasoline. Yet the innovative hybrid powertrain will deliver acceleration performance similar to an Escape equipped with the 200 horsepower, V-6 gasoline engine.

The PowerSmart transaxle further improves performance by offering many of the benefits of a continuously variable transmission, including nearly seamless shifting.

The driver uses a familiar floor shifter with selections for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low, but virtually all of these functions operate differently. The point is that these operations are seamless to the driver, who operates the vehicle in a familiar, comfortable way

While a few automakers have introduced small, low-volume hybrid-electric cars, Ford is introducing its first HEV in a family-sized sport utility to increase mass customer appeal. The hybrid-electric powertrain also has been developed with additional applications and vehicles in mind to expand the potential impact of the environmentally responsible technology.

The PowerSmart system incorporates technology developed by Volvo and Aisin AW for the Dual Hybrid Electric System for Increased Efficiency and Economy (DESIREE) program, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in 1999.

[SOURCE: Ford Motor Company]
 

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So if this is Volvo technology, does it have anything to do with the ECC concept from a few years ago (looked like an S80)? Also, I think they should do a hybrid Volvo for the US market. I saw they were doing the Bi-fuel, but a hybrid electric would make more sense in the states, and the next S40 might be the platform to do it.
 
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