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FORD BEGINS FINAL BUILD OF ECOSTARS TODAY

 DEARBORN, Mich., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Final assembly began today of the first 105 Ford Ecostars that will be tested in fleets in the United States, Europe and Mexico later this year, Harold A. Poling, Ford (NYSE: F) chairman and chief executive officer, announced.
 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 vehicles are being modified in the U.S. to accommodate an electric motor, single-speed transaxle, electronic controls and a sodium-sulfur battery.
 "The Ecostar's Ford-invented sodium-sulfur battery has triple the range of conventional batteries," Mr. Poling told more than 400 student competitors assembled for the kickoff of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Challenge, an intercollegiate competition that Ford, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Society of Automotive Engineers are co-sponsoring here this week.
 "Ecostar also features more advanced electronic technology than anyone has ever put into an automobile -- outside of the show-car circuit," Poling said. "It represents a total system approach to electric vehicle development, using electronics and software to replace what is done mechanically in conventional vehicles. In fact," Poling said, "Ecostar has five times the computer power of the most advanced Ford on the road today."
 Due to its advanced electronics, the vehicle handles like a real- world vehicle. Ecostar's system controller integrates the input of three subsystem controllers. These controllers ensure smooth interaction between the battery, inverter and the motor. The result is a vehicle that, except for a much quieter ride, handles and performs like a comparable internal combustion engine vehicle.
 "The challenges of producing an electric vehicle that is reliable, affordable and is acceptable to the consumer -- are formidable," he explained.
 "There are still many unanswered questions," he said, "for example, whether battery technology can progress fast enough to match government mandates and customer requirements. The development of a completely electric-powered vehicle depends on battery technology improvements by battery manufacturers and the auto industry."
 The HEV Challenge was created to encourage engineering students to look toward the future in developing electric vehicles as a practical solution to promote cleaner air and energy conservation.
 To compete, teams from 30 universities in the U.S. and Canada worked for 18 months to design unique hybrid electric vehicles -- battery- powered cars whose range is supplemented by a combustion engine fueled by gasoline, ethanol or methanol. The HEV Challenge continues through Saturday, with teams competing in a design competition today; emissions testing Thursday; a 100-mile over-the-road driving test along Michigan highways to the Michigan International Speedway on Friday; and a stop- and-go "commuter challenge" at Ford's Dearborn Proving Ground on Saturday. Winners will be announced at a banquet Saturday night.
 FORD ECOSTAR DIMENSIONS AND STATISTICS
 Powertrain
 Motor: 75 hp (56 kW) 3-phase, ac induction
 Transmission: Single-speed integrated front-wheel drive
 Standard Features
 Steering: Manual rack-and-pinion
 Brakes: Power-assisted hydraulic braking and regenerative braking
 Heater: Electric resistive heating element (4-5 kW)
 Wheels/Tires: Lightweight 14-inch aluminum alloy wheels with specifically developed P195/70R14 low rolling resistance tires
 Other: Solar power assisted ventilation; high thermal efficiency glass; AM/FM stereo cassette radio
 Options
 A/C: Electrically driven high-efficiency scroll compressor non-fluorocarbon refrigerant
 Heater: Fuel-fired heater. Use confined to non-zero emission areas (recommended for cold climates)
 Battery
 Type: Sodium sulfur
 Energy capacity rating at 80 percent DOD: 30 kWh
 Power ratings: Peak intermittent 58 kWh-77 hp; maximum continuous 35 kW-47 hp
 Charger: On board (120/240 V) with 12-foot charging cord on reel. Requires 240 V at 30 amp ac single phase for maximum charging rate
 Performance
 Maximum vehicle weight: 3,950 lb
 Vehicle curb weight: 3,100 lb
 Maximum payload: 850 lb
 Rated top speed (governed): 70 mph
 Rated 0-50 mph acceleration time: 12 seconds
 Driving range (Federal Urban Driving Schedule): 110 miles
 -0- 6/2/93
 /CONTACT: Jessica Hatchigan for Ford Ecostar, 313-845-5746, or Kathryn Blackwell for HEV Challenge, 313-322-7998, both of Ford Motor Company/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU: PDT

DH-SB -- DE016 -- 4447 06/02/93 12:03 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 2, 1993
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