About Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Europe

Designing individual mobility in concord with the environment and advanced safety standards is the defining theme of Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering Europe centre in Aachen, Germany. Founded in 1994, Ford's only research facility outside Detroit has since grown into a centre staffed with around 250 employees from over 25 nations around the world. Here, collaborations with universities, noted institutes, competitors and suppliers give rise to innovations that benefit all of the Ford Motor Company's brands. In the area of environment and sustainability, this research ranges from the development of next-generation diesel and gasoline engines, to environmental research, through to the development of alternative powertrain systems including hybridisation, the optimisation of vehicle energy management, telematics, and the development of new materials. To improve safety in road traffic, Ford's research centre in Aachen is developing active safety systems including active suspension and chassis systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Another research team is devoted to designing improved vehicle interior concepts with a special emphasis on health and safety aspects.

The Ford Motor Company, based in Dearborn, Michigan, has 224,000 employees and operates some 90 plants worldwide. The Group includes the Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, and Mazda brands.

Motivation to Participate in the Clean Energy Partnership

Preserving individual mobility while minimising its environmental impact and using renewable energy is one of the most important goals of automotive research. Electric vehicles using a battery, a fuel cell, or a combination of both as a power source offer the greatest potential for efficient use of electricity generated by renewable means. Hydrogen is an ideal medium for storing electrical power for these applications. Besides, the time required to refuel a hydrogen tank is about as short as to refuel a conventional combustion engine vehicle – much shorter than the time required to recharge traction batteries – which is an important consideration in achieving customer acceptance. This and other technical issues, such as evaluating and validating the durability of fuel-cell technology and its components in everyday service, or vehicle maintenance, are all subjects of research within the Clean Energy Partnership. These fleet trials will deliver valuable data and findings which will contribute to the further development of this technology and culminate eventually in full-scale production. The Ford fuel-cell research fleet has already logged over one million miles (1.6 million kilometres).

The history of hydrogen at Ford

Ford began work on hydrogen fuels in the early 1990's, and in 1998 presented its first personal vehicle with fuel-cell technology. It was the culmination of an ambitious and intensive research initiative on hydrogen vehicles, which resulted in several prototypes using fuel cells and hydrogen internal combustion engines. This was followed by the first small series production vehicle to complete all currently-required product development phases: the Focus Fuel Cell. This safe, reliable car left the prototype stage and commenced small series production in 2004 – the fifth generation of fuel cell vehicles from the Ford stable. Since then, Ford engineers have developed and presented further prototypes such as the Ford Edge Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid which uses a fuel cell to recharge the Lithium-Ion traction battery during operation, thereby significantly extending the vehicle's range. Ford also maintains a fleet of fuel-cell-powered, small series shuttle buses in operation in North America.