Ford developed the Fusion after 10 years of R&D into hydrogen vehicle technology and over a year of specific design and development of the 999 model. The Fusion is actually the result of a partnership between Ford, the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research, Ballard Power Systems and Roush Racing.
The Fusion project began in 2004, when students from the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research set a land speed record for battery electric vehicles in the Buckeye Bullet at 314.958 mph. Within six months of this accomplishment, the students came to Ford with a proposal to build the Buckeye Bullet 2, powered by hydrogen fuel cells. This marked the beginning of a partnership in attempting to set the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell land speed records in both a streamliner and a production based Ford Fusion.
Although the Fusion Hydrogen 999’s exterior seems similar to a standard racing car, there are a few key differences. It’s more aerodynamic, is closer to the ground, has no side mirrors and since there is no radiator, lacks a grille to let air in. Weighing 6,700 pounds (over 3 tons) with a driver and a fully loaded cooling system, the 999 is twice as heavy as a normal race car.
While the celebration surrounding the 999 continues, the Ohio State’s Buckeye Bullet 2 is preparing to break the “streamliner” speed record of 315 mph set in 2004 by the all-electric Buckeye Bullet 1.
As important as the 999’s new speed record is, and as inspiring as the work on the Buckeye Bullet and the Buckeye Bullet II is, the real work is going into developing fuel cell based commercial cars. Ford already has a fleet of 30 hydrogen powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to conduct real life testing of fuel cell technology. The 30-car fleet has accumulated more than 540,000 miles since its inception in 2005. However, experts believe that it will take between 15-20 years before a viable hydrogen economy will enable a massive transition to hydrogen fueled transportation.
TFOT recently covered one potential near-term ‘green’ transportation solution from the Pennsylvania-based Lithium Technology Corporation. The company demonstrated a new type of “plug-in” Toyota Prius hybrid car. The new model is based on an advanced lithium iron phosphate battery, which allows the hybrid car to travel to a distance of up to 125 miles for every gallon of fuel – making it possibly the most efficient mass-produced car in the world. Interestingly, several reports indicate that Toyota will delay the introduction of its third generation Prius hybrid car by at least several months, moving it into year 2009 (or possibly even further into the future).