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Ford invests in electrification technologies center

By developing more technologies in-house through investments in infrastructure and people, Ford is delivering more affordable and fuel-efficient vehicles to its customers. Ford is adding new green jobs, doubling its battery-testing capabilities and speeding electrified vehicles to market by at least 25 percent, creating even more fuel-efficient choices for customers.

Ford is investing $135 million in the design, engineering and production of key components – including advanced battery systems – for its next-generation hybrid-electric vehicles going into production this year.

For example, Ford’s battery-testing capabilities will double by 2013 – to a total of 160 individual battery-test channels. This includes investing in more of the highly specialized machines that can test and simulate everything from power and performance to life and thermal behavior over a complete range of temperatures and possible operating conditions.

Also, Ford is dedicating a 285,000 sq.ft. research and development lab in Dearborn, Michigan, to focus almost entirely on hybrids and electrification. The building formerly known as the Advanced Engineering Center is renamed the Ford Advanced Electrification Center and houses most of the 1,000 engineers working on hybrid and electrification programs.

Ford continues to build its electrified team with 60 engineers hired in the past year and dozens more positions to be filled this year.

Customers benefit from Ford’s investments in two ways – more fuel-efficient vehicle options and even better value.

Ford is reducing the cost of its current hybrid system by 30 percent versus the company’s previous-generation system. Ford is also launching five electrified vehicles this year as part of its power of choice strategy to deliver leading fuel economy across its lineup and triple electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013.

Ford remains America’s largest domestic producer of hybrid vehicles.

Typical of the auto industry, Ford’s early hybrids contained batteries that involved third parties in everything from design to testing.

As the scope of Ford’s hybrid program expanded, however, Ford found new efficiencies by bringing research, development and production of electrified vehicles in-house, said Anand Sankaran, Ford executive technical leader, Energy Storage and HV Systems.

“Time is of the essence, especially when we have a specific launch date,” said Sankaran.

Ford’s doubling of its battery-testing capabilities is one example of how crucial time is maximized as the company no longer has to search for the right supplier with the right equipment to quickly perform specific tests.

The expanded battery-testing capabilities allow the team to quickly collect, analyze and apply vast amounts of data and, when needed, modify tests and easily adapt necessary changes. Projects are completed at least 25 percent faster than they were with previous-generation hybrids, Sankaran said.