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How the Ford Fusion Hybrid Works

The Ford Fusion Hybrid represents a different kind of regular production vehicle for American-made cars, one that focuses heavily on efficient hybrid technology.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid represents a different kind of regular production vehicle for American-made cars, one that focuses heavily on efficient hybrid technology.
David McNew/Getty Images

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In 2­005 the Ford Motor Company introduced the 2006 Ford Fusion, a midsized sedan that was essentially a 21st century update of the Ford Taurus. The car wasn't meant to be flashy or sporty. Instead, it was another in a long line of dependable and affordable Ford sedans intended to get you from point A to point B.

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Of course, some might take that to mean that the Fusion is also another in a long line of gas guzzlers. With concern over gasoline engines creating carbon emissions and contributing heavily to global warming, many are pushing for cleaner, more efficient technology in the cars we drive. Although there are several types of alternative fuel vehicles on the market today, hybrid drivetrains continue to offer a useful compromise of the best of both electric and gasoline technology -- electric motors create zero emissions and internal combustion engines provide the vehicle with enough cruising power.

­Since hybrids have caught on, car companies like Toyota and Honda have found relative success with their popular hybrid vehicles. Other car companies, including Ford, appeared to be behind the times. But in March 2009, Ford took a big step forward in an attempt to let the public know that the company has been paying attention. Now that the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has hit the market, the model will represent Ford's first major entry in the area of the sophisticated hybrid sedan, something that could mean a lot in terms of production vehicles manufactured in the United States.

How efficient will the Ford Fusion Hybrid be? What is the car's design like? Is it like any other sedan, or does the Fusion hybrid have more modern, eco-friendly features? How affordable will the new hybrid sedan be? Keep reading to find out.

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The Ford Fusion Hybrid's SmartGauge screen helps drivers learn more efficient driving habits.­­
The Ford Fusion Hybrid's SmartGauge screen helps drivers learn more efficient driving habits.­­
David McNew/Getty Images­

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­Fr­om th­e outsi­de­­, the Fo­rd Fusion Hybrid looks like a­ typical sedan­. It's ­nothing flashy, and in fact it's safe to say it's a little bland -- all in all it looks like a lot of cars you see on the road, so there isn't anything offensive or eye-catching about it.

Still, the Fusion Hybrid received the same kinds of upgrades as the regular 2010 Ford Fusion did, which many saw as an improvement over previous models. The front of the car, including the grill, is a bit broader than your typical sedan; a character line across the hood (a slight, boxy indent that pushes up) helps give the Fusion a newer look without requiring a complete redesign.

The inside is where things get different, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid, of course, gets a hybrid upgrade system. The main feature associated with the interior is the SmartGauge LCD screen, a customizable, all-digital instrument that visually displays fuel efficiency and, with the help of the "EcoGuide" program, can coach drivers on better driving habits. An animation of green leaves grows when drivers practice good fuel economy. It's possible to choose from four different data screens during a drive. The "Inform" screen simply shows fuel levels and battery charge status, the "Enlighten" screen adds a tachometer and notifies drivers when they're in electric mode, the "Engage" screen adds the engine and battery output power levels and the "Empower" screen lets drivers know how much power is going to the wheels and other parts of the car.

Fusion hybrid drivers and passengers can sit comfortably, knowing their seats are eco-friendly, too: The cloth fabric that covers the Ford Fusion Hybrid's seats is polyester fiber made from 85 percent post-industrial materials. Customers can also select optional GPS navigation, heated leather seats instead of the cloth fabric, Sirius satellite radio and a special upgraded Sony audio system.

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The Ford Fusion Hybrid's ability to operate in all-electric mode at the relatively high-speed of 47 miles per hour could make it stand out among competitors.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid's ability to operate in all-electric mode at the relatively high-speed of 47 miles per hour could make it stand out among competitors.
David McNew/­Getty Images

Of course, all of the interior gadgets and toys are fun, and everybody likes to know where everything will be once you're sitting in the driver's seat, but the most important aspect of the Fusion Hybrid -- what sets it apart from the standard production Fusion -- is what's under the hood.

The Fusion Hybrid gets its propulsion from two sources: an electric motor and a gasoline engine. The electric motor gets its power from a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery, and it's coupled into one single unit with an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), a type of transmission that provides better fuel efficiency by constantly changing through an infinite number of gear ratios. The motor and transmission are mated to a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle gasoline engine, which features late intake valve closing (iVCT) to allow the car to switch smoothly from electric mode to gas mode and back again. The engine delivers 155 horsepower and 136 pound-feet (184.4 newton-meters) of torque.

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What makes the Ford Fusion Hybrid really stand out, however, is the fact that, according to Ford, the car will operate in all-electric mode up to 47 miles per hour (75.6 kilometers per hour), much faster than most of its competitors. This not only keeps the Fusion Hybrid quiet for longer stretches, even in faster lanes, but it could also save a lot on fuel -- Ford claims it's possible to drive as far as 700 miles (1,126.5 kilometers) on one tank of gas. If you drive in areas with lower speed limits, like a neighborhood or busy city streets, you could potentially take nearly all of the car's power from the electric motor, lowering emissions and saving money. Overall, the EPA estimates the Fusion Hybrid should get about 41 miles per gallon (17.4 kilometers per liter) in the city and 36 miles per gallon (15.3 kilometers per liter) on the highway [source: Ford].

The Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan has a base price of around $27,000, and a reasonable price coupled with features that allow drivers to save even more money could make the new car a popular choice among hybrid car buyers.

For more information about hybrid cars and other related topics, follow the links the next page.

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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

  • Ford.com. "2010 Ford Fusion." (March 9, 2009) http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/fusion/
  • Healey, James R. "Test drive: 2010 Ford Fusion is best gas-electric hybrid yet." USA Today. Feb. 6, 2009. (March 9, 2009) http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2009-02-05-2010-ford-fusion-hybrid_N.htm
  • LeftLaneNews.com. "2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid: priced from $27,270." Nov. 20, 2008. (March 9, 2009) http://www.leftlanenews.com/ford-fusion-hybrid.html
  • Wojdyla, Ben. "2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid." Jalopnik.com. Nov. 19, 2008. (March 9, 2009) http://jalopnik.com/5092455/2010-ford-fusion-hybrid

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