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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • Amazing; this Fusion really blows the doors off its competition. Hopefully Ford gets credit (deserved) from buyers for this great car!
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    And it should be pointed out that the Fusion hybrid uses NO licensed Toyota patents. This should dispel that myth once and for all.
  • Didn't the Escape hybrid use Toyota components? If so this is an offshoot... :confuse:
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    The Escape used an Aisin transmission (so did the 05-09 Fusion), if that's what you're talking about. Aisin is partially owned by Toyota but they're just a parts supplier just like ZF or Getrag or any other 3rd party transmission supplier.

    Not sure which tranny the 2010 Fusion Hybrid will use. But the issue was that Ford found similarities between their software and patents that Toyota held in that area so to avoid a potential lawsuit later they worked out an exchange of patent licenses (Ford got 20 or so and Toyota got some related to diesel truck engines). Many people incorrectly took this to mean that Ford simply bought Toyota's hybrid technology which is absolutely false - they developed it on their own.

    Nissan did apparently buy Toyota's hybrid technology. Totally different scenario.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    New Fusion is impressive. Certainly puts the pressure on GM with the upcoming 2-Mode Hybrid Malibu.

    I heard the Fusion availability will be pretty limited though. I guess lower gas prices have also killed off some hybrid demand. Too bad because Ford has something big here.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    What Ford did wisely is to ensure they didn't get sued by Toyota by working out an agreement with Toyota. I take that to mean, without this agreement they believed there could be a long, and expensive litigation process to which they decided coopetition is better than the unknown.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    That's exactly what happened, because they found out after they wrote some of the software that it was similar enough to what Toyota had patented that it might be challenged in court. However they actually wrote their own software - they didn't copy it or buy it from Toyota. And now the FFH doesn't even use that software anymore. Just trying to dispel that myth once and for all.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    So we are supposed to believe Ford gave Toyota patents, just out of the kindness of their hearts? If Ford didn't copy anything, it was a pretty stupid move. Ford had to have done something underhanded. Nobody gives away technology.
  • elroy, this has been discussed ad nauseum in this and other forums. Ford did not infringe Toyota patents. Just like most businesses do today, Ford and Toyota entered into a cross licensing agreement to avoid any infringement problems. Here are a few comments about the agreement:

    From wikipedia:

    The Escape Hybrid uses technology similar to that used in Toyota's Prius. Ford engineers realized their technology may conflict with patents held by Toyota, which led to a 2004 patent-sharing accord between the companies, licensing Ford's use of some of Toyota's hybrid technology in exchange for Toyota's use of some of Ford's diesel and direct-injection engine technology.[9] Both Ford and Toyota state that Ford received no technical assistance from Toyota in developing the hybrid powertrain, but that some hybrid engine technologies developed by Ford independently were found to be similar to technologies previously patented by Toyota.

    From Businessweek.com:

    Ford Motor Company was THE FIRST auto manufacturer in the world to put a full hybrid SUV on the road.
    The Ford Escape Hybrid (and now the Mercury Mariner Hybrid) was engineered, validated and is manufactured in the United States. There is NO Toyota technology or parts in our vehicle. We received NO technical support from Toyota when designing our hybrid system.
    We entered into a business arrangement with Toyota where we EXCHANGED patent licences. We licensed 21 patents from Toyota because our hybrid system design was close enough in design to what Toyota did that we wanted to ensure there were no accusations of infringement. At the same time, Toyota licensed several patents from Ford for emissions technology. This was a financial transaction — one which goes on in our industry every day.


    This is a common business practice in today's copyright-gone-mad litigious economy. Nothing underhanded there. ;)
  • berriberri Posts: 4,213
    I believe Ford may be honest on this one. There is a whole business out there using patents (many of them pretty shaky patents at that) and threatened litigation to extort money. The lawyers are once again further helping America lose its competitiveness and Congress just sits on its [non-permissible content removed] taking lobbyist payola while Americans keep losing jobs or paying inflated prices because of this nonsense. The patent is an important protection, but not when they are issued for marginal at best concepts that often build off concepts already around. This issue needs to be fixed, but it probably won't since the Bar Associations have plenty of lobbyists to help keep the over supply of attorney's employed.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    tenpin, I was not the one who brought this subject up.

    We licensed 21 patents from Toyota because our hybrid system design was close enough in design to what Toyota did that we wanted to ensure there were no accusations of infringement.

    How did these two designs become so similar? Pure coincidence?
    None of the Ford guys knew anything about Toyota's hybrid system, or how it worked? And didn't use that knowledge, to help them along? Please
    Actually, why would the consumer care where the hybrid technology came from? As long as the system works. The fact that Ford people are so defensive about it, says to me, they have their own doubts, as to how original Ford's system is.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Toyota will probably threaten Ford with something again, for several reasons:

    1. How dare some silly American manufacturer develop a better hybrid system than Toyota?
    2. Toyota has the cash to sue, Ford can't afford to get into litigation right now
    3. Toyota is jealous of the F150, and might want to reskin it and sell it as the next Tundra

    Luckily the other Fusion models look extremely wonderful and candidates for Car of the Year from someone. I want one, and I'll take an I4 SEL if I can't get the Hybrid (I drive 90% highway anyway, paying the hybrid premium is a questionable move despite how well the Fusion Hybrid does on the highway).
  • Well if it's not the same,it surely is similar enough to make me wonder.Nothing wrong with that,it's inevitable that there will be similarities.Heck, aren't all cars similar in many many ways?
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    How did these two designs become so similar? Pure coincidence?

    Yes, it was PURE COINCIDENCE. When two people write software that does similar functions it often turns out the same. There are only so many ways to do something. It happens ALL THE TIME - you just don't normally hear about it.

    You (and others) just can't bear the thought that Ford did something good - on their own - and you just have to find something to detract from that.

    Can we stop with all the conspiracy theories now?
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Can we stop with all the conspiracy theories now?

    Nope, because like you said, some just can't bear the thought of Ford doing something good. Many of them work for Toyota. :shades:
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You've got to be kidding. Toyota's "hybrid" is really a dual engine vehicle and not a true hybrid.

    A proper hybrid uses a high efficiency on-board generator(pick your poison) to make electricity to charge the batteries and electric motors. There is no transmission as the car is basically an electric vehicle with a greatly extended range.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,737
    That is not a mainstream definition of "hybrid." But for the sake of discussion, which mid-sized sedans qualify as hybrids under your definition?
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    None. He's describing the Volt. Also the same system they use in trains, where it's referred to as "diesel-electric." There's nothing hybrid about it because it doesn't use a combination of both methods to propel the car (hence the word "hybrid" versus "gas-electric" or "on-board-generator)" etc).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The problem with the Prius is that it needlessly switches between the two systems.

    No, production car currently uses such a system, though they should, since it would cost a lot less and easily get 100mpg.

    ***(from wiki)***
    In 1901, while employed at Lohner Coach Factory, Ferdinand Porsche designed the "Mixte", a series-hybrid vehicle based on his earlier "System Lohner-Porsche" electric carriage. The Mixte broke several Austrian speed records, and also won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 with Porsche himself driving. The Mixte used a gasoline engine powering a generator, which in turn powered electric hub motors, with a small battery pack for reliability. It had a range of 50 km, a top speed of 50 km/h and a power of 5.22 kW during 20 minutes.

    The first such vehicle was exactly as I described, so by definition, such a design IS a hybrid vehicle as well. The Prius and Honda methods are needlessly cumbersome and complicated.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    What you described is an electric vehicle with a self contained generator. The only means of propulsion are the electric motors. A hybrid refers to the fact that it can operate on the electric motor alone, or the gasoline engine, or both.

    If that design was so superior - why hasn't it already been built?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,737
    At least the Prius HYBRID is mid-sized based on EPA interior volume. And has demonstrated it is a fully practical hybrid, both in terms of real-world performance over time and market acceptance. The Camry and Altima hybrids, with similar hybrid systems, have also proven to be practical for today's world, although the Altima suffers from limited availability. If the Fulan hybrids are at least as good on the road as their press, I think Ford will have a winner there also.

    As for the Volt... anyone who can actually afford one, and thinks it will pay off for them compared to a hybrid like the 2010 Fulan or Prius, go for it.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    The Prius and Honda methods are needlessly cumbersome and complicated.

    The Prius and Honda methods (both of which are different, by the way), as well as the Ford method, have one distinct advantage, as mentioned. They have been proven to be practical in the real world. That "series-hybrid" which you described, which for the sake of argument we'll call "series-hybrid," ok? Anyway, it hasn't proven practical in cars. Trains, yes. Trains are hideously expensive. Cars, no. They're trying with the Volt, but the fact is you have to have batteries in between, because below a certain size, an electric generator doesn't produce enough electricity to move itself and its fuel around.

    5.22 kW isn't enough to move the lightest car around unless it doesn't meet crash standards. And that 1901 car could only go about 25 MPh...and in fact could only go about 25 miles, which means it was only carrying around an hour's worth of fuel, which isn't much. Fuel is heavy. To carry more around you need more power, which means you need a bigger generator, which means you need more power and more fuel, which means you need to pull more weight, which means you need more power, which means you need a bigger generator, etc.

    The Volt comes close to your series-hybrid design, but still needs batteries to act as storage/capacitors. It's going to be $40,000 to start. You can get a Toyota/Ford/Honda style hybrid for half that.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Yes, but we'd obviously not use 100+ year old technology, either.

    You basically need a 40-50HP motorcycle engine that's designed to run at one optimal speed to generate power. But the car would have some batteries to handle passing and acceleration of course, since you don't usually NEED more than 40-50hp in a car at highway speeds except for brief periods of acceleration.

    Toyota and Honda designed the cars that way so that they could run purely on gas if the batteries ran down to nothing. More of a fallback measure, when it's really not required. They would have done better with a half sized engine just generating power. Why did they do this? Because if the batteries go completely dead, then it would chug along like a VW Bug(say a really long mountain pass you're climbing up). Myself, I don't really care about going a bit slower for 3-4 miles if it means the rest of the time it gets 100mpg+.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,755
    you are not going very far in a current hybrid without any gasoline.
    maye enough to pull over to the side of the road, if you run out.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,737
    C/D compared four mid-sized hybrid sedans in its February issue: Altima, Camry, Fusion, and Malibu. Don't read further if you don't want to learn how they were ranked.

    The Malibu, a "mild" hybrid, was ranked last by a large margin. It averaged only 29 mpg on a 300 mile test loop that combined rural, highway, and urban driving. Consider that some non-hybrid mid-sized sedans can get very close to that. C/D also had gripes on the interior comfort and quality, and how abruptly the engine engages from auto-stop.

    Next was the Altima. It actually did a tad better than the Camry in FE overall, 32 to 31 mpg, and was the quickest of the four. But it was knocked for lack of refinement.

    The Camry was second and was praised for its silky operation and interior quality. But as is typical for C/D reviews of Toyotas, it was knocked for being like an "old man's car".

    The Fusion was their top choice by a significant margin, averaging 34 mpg on the test loop. It was also praised for combining Toyota smoothness with driving involvement.

    I was wondering about the value proposition of these hybrids though. For example, the Fusion starts at $28k and was $32.5k as tested. Given that a I4 sedan can be had for about $10-12k less, and could probably average at least 25 mpg on a combined rural/highway/city loop, the savings in gas at 15k miles a year and $4/gallon is about $635 a year. Quite a payback time--and gas isn't at $4/gallon now. Also consider that the Camry did the best on the highway of the 4 cars yet got 34.8 mpg there. Some mid-sizers could get very close to that if not match it on the highway. In the city, though, the Fusion got 36.9 mpg. That is perhaps double what a non-hybrid mid-sizer would do. (But the Malibu got only 19.8 mpg city!) So it appears the value proposition for full hybrids like the Fusion is best when the car is mostly driven in the city.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Given that a I4 sedan can be had for about $10-12k less, and could probably average at least 25 mpg on a combined rural/highway/city loop, the savings in gas at 15k miles a year and $4/gallon is about $635 a year. Quite a payback time--and gas isn't at $4/gallon now.

    Ah, and just think, if it stays cheap, we will be reading years from now about how stupid the managements of Ford and GM were for wasting all this money developing hybrids, instead of upgrading their profitable trucks and SUVs. :D

    I assume there are more differences than just the hybridness if there is a $10-12K price difference. :confuse:
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    you are not going very far in a current hybrid without any gasoline.
    maybe enough to pull over to the side of the road, if you run out.
    ****

    Maybe - but you're dead as well in a normal car if you run out. The differences are:

    1 - The generator can use any number of fuels, and can be of any kind. I suggest a small turbine engine burning diesel fuel. Or that can run stuff other than petroleum based fuels. (say, already designed to run vegetable oils as well as diesel)

    2 - vastly less weight and parts to fix. Said small engine could easily be air/heatsink cooled as well, meaning that you could eliminate 90% of the things that typically break and require fixing in a car. No coolant system(huge), plus not needing things like an alternator or transmission. Think VW Bug or Go-Kart simple. The vast majority of the vehicle is empty space as a result.

    3 - tons cheaper to buy. Instead of a battery pack that can run 20-30 miles on its own, you have a smaller set of 2-4 batteries and some capacitors. BAttery replacement every 5-10 years is closer to $500.

    4 - less weight (1000+ lbs lighter than a Prius) also means much quicker acceleration and less power needed to move it around. Less expensive components as well. This should save 10-20mpg right here.

    The problem is that nobody is making one because they all worship speed instead of efficiency. I'd happily deal with a 1980s era Civic CRX sized small car with 100mpg and 0-60 times in the 10-15 second range.(same as most older cars, so traffic isn't going any quicker anyways).
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    The C/D article is a good comparison, if you want a "typical" midsize sedan, that is also a hybrid. The article calls the Fusion the "most fuel efficient midsize hybrid". It fails to mention the Prius however, which should have at least been mentioned as the "exception" to the rule in this comparison. While it is not the "typical" midsize, it is classified as midsize by the EPA, and is the most cost effective hybrid by far. If you really want the most out of your hybrid, the Prius whips them all. It has the lowest price, and the highest mileage.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,702
    The Prius is smaller, uglier by far and doesn't drive anything like a normal midsize sedan. The Fusion Hybrid is EPA rated at 45 city while the Fusion gets 41. The Fusion looks better, drives better and gets almost the same fuel economy in the city.

    The only reason to buy a Prius is to show people that you have a hybrid, since it doesn't look like any normal midsize sedan.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    The Fusion looks better, drives better and gets almost the same fuel economy in the city.

    You forgot the most important part. The Prius cost about $10k less. That's one heck of an incentive to be greener. :surprise:
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