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FORD ANNOUNCES FIRST DEALERSHIPS IN U.S. TO SERVICE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

 DEARBORN, Mich., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Electric vehicles have come one step closer to becoming an everyday reality.
 Today Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) announced the first dealerships in the United States authorized to provide service to its electric vehicles. These are: Troy Ford in Troy, Mich.; Frederick Motor Company in Frederick, Md.; S&C Ford in San Francisco; and Downey Ford in Downey, Calif.
 Later this year, Ford will begin delivery of 82 Ecostar electric utility vans to several companies in the United States, Europe and Mexico, many of them energy utilities. The vans are the first electric vehicles made by a U.S. manufacturer to feature the advanced sodium- sulfur battery. Powered by a sodium-sulfur battery, which was invented by Ford Motor Company and has two to three times the driving range of a lead acid battery of the same weight, the Ecostar has a range of 100 city driving miles.
 The vehicles are on lease for 30 months as part of a "real-world" test of electric vehicles. The data gathered during the test will be used to further Ford's research and development of the electric vehicle. After the 30-month lease is up, the vehicles will be returned to Ford for further study.
 "Ecostars will be driven in real working environments for several years before we will be satisfied enough to make electric vehicles generally available for sale," said John Wallace, director of Electric Vehicle Technology Programs. "We aren't going to put Ford electric vehicles on public sale until we are certain they meet quality and customer-satisfaction standards."
 Ecostar is based on the European Escort van, a small, front-wheel- drive delivery vehicle. (There is no comparable model in the North American-built Escort line.)
 The electric vehicles are being modified in the U.S. to accommodate an electric motor, single-speed transaxle, electronic controls and a sodium-sulfur battery. Ecostar can reach speeds up to 75 miles per hour and has a driving range of 100 miles before needing a recharge.
 The drive/motor transaxle consists of a high-speed three-phase AC (alternating current) motor integral with a single-speed transaxle. Compared to equivalent DC (direct current) systems, the AC motor works at a higher rate of efficiency, is generally more durable, and is smaller, lighter and less expensive to produce.
 Lightweight materials are extensively used -- magnesium for the transaxle case, aluminum alloy for the wheels, air-conditioner compressor and power electronics center, and composite materials for the rear springs, load floor and bulk head.
 As a result, Ecostar's curb weight is only 3,100 pounds. Yet it has a payload capacity of about 900 pounds, significant for an electric vehicle of its size.
 Ecostar has a high-efficiency climate control system, low rolling- resistance tires and regenerative braking to assist in battery charging.
 For users who need greater driving range, a small auxiliary internal combustion engine that drives a battery-charging generator will be available as an option. The "hybrid-electric" version's driving range is about 250 miles.
 Ecostar has an on-board charging system that can be connected to any 220 volt/30 amp or 110 volt/15 amp (normal household current) outlet for recharging. No special wiring is required. Full recharge time is approximately five hours for 220 volts, 18-20 hours for 110 volts.
 -0- 4/14/93
 /CONTACT: Jessica Hatchigan of Ford Motor Company, 313-380-1422 (April 14 only) or 313-845-5746 (after April 14)/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan, Maryland, California IN: AUT SU: PDT

SM -- DE004 -- 5519 04/14/93 08:09 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 14, 1993
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