Ford and University Of Michigan Team to Speed up Hybrid Development
Hoping to accelerate the learning curve that will lead to a new generation of even more desirable hybrid vehicles, Ford Motor Company has joined forces with researchers at the University of Michigan. This pioneering effort, which is based around extensive virtual testing procedures, allows the teams to simulate up to 175,000 different control programs per week, a task that Ford hopes will ultimately yield results that lead to hybrid cars that deliver noticeably better fuel economy and enhanced drivability. Currently, the group is busy analyzing data from 2,500 road trips to determine how internal electronic vehicle controls could be modified to realize gains in mileage as well as making the cars even more fun to drive. Ford indicates that beyond opening the door to delivering more benefits right out of the box, these efforts might one day allow owners to fine-tune the performance of their individual hybrids by means of custom software downloads. While much remains to be done before this process reaches commercial status, the early results are encouraging. "Working together with the University of Michigan research team, we are testing the boundaries of hybrid vehicle technology, exploring innovative ways to raise the bar on fuel economy and drivability," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, chief technical officer, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "This joint work on hybrid software development shows great promise in helping us lead the development of more efficient hybrid systems for the future."