According to a top engineer at Ford, the company will be moving funds from hydrogen fuel cell research to focus on hybrid and electric vehicles.  The move comes on the heels of the auto industry's rapid involvement into hybrid-electric and full-electric and Ford has no plans of being left behind.

Ford, which recorded a lost of $14.8 billion in 2008, is trying to stay afloat and avoid government funding.  The decision to move funding from hydrogen fuel cell technology to hybrid and electric technology will provide alternative powertrains that are viable in the short term.  According to Ford's chief engineer of hybrid and fuel cell technology Scott Staley, "We're refocusing our fuel cell research to concentrate on fundamental issues.  The most significant obstacle standing in the way of the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cells is cost.  We've clearly demonstrated the viability of hydrogen fuel cells as a propulsion system, but not as a business equation...That's a bit of a problem for the company considering the financial situation it is in."

Ford's fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will continue to undergo testing, but for now the focus will be on hybrid and electric vehicles.  Ford will offer an electric version of the Transit Connect Van next year, recently released the Fusion Hybrid and Milan Hybrid and plans to introduce a plug in electric by 2012 as well as more hybrid vehicles in the next few years.

Ford's vice president of powertrain product development Barb Samardzich sums up the move from hydrogen to electric in one statement, "With electrification, the technology continues to progress at a pretty aggressive rate.  Same with hybrids and therefore, you start to spend more of our resources on those technologies.  Hydrogen fuel cells haven't progressed at a rate that someone would say, Wow I'm ready to put this into our cycle plan in the near term." 

As Ford concentrates additional funding on hybrid and electric vehicles, consumers can expect improved hybrid and electric vehicles from the automaker in the coming years. 

Source:  Wards Auto