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FORD TO DEVELOP FIRST NATURAL GAS PASSENGER CAR

 CHICAGO, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) today announced a product development program that could lead to the first U.S. production of passenger cars designed for operation solely on natural gas.
 "The development of this vehicle, based on the popular full-sized Crown Victoria, is expected to be completed in the mid-1990s," said Kenneth K. Kohrs, Ford Motor Company vice president - Car Product Development. "The natural gas industry has provided a big vote of confidence by partially funding this development effort." Chicago-based Gas Research Institute (GRI) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) will sponsor $7 million of the nearly $50 million cost of the passenger car development program.
 "We see significant potential in government, municipal and private fleets for full-sized passenger cars fueled by natural gas," Kohrs added.
 Fifty 1992 natural gas Crown Victoria demonstration vehicles are being evaluated in the United States and Canada in a three-year program. Gas utilities participating in this program are providing data on vehicle performance, emissions, fuel economy and system durability and reliability.
 "The 50 Crown Victorias differ from after-market conversions of gasoline vehicles to natural gas usage because the engine and key components have been optimized to take full advantage of the properties of natural gas as a transportation fuel," Kohrs explained. "That results in excellent power and fuel economy with significantly reduced emissions."
 Sophisticated technology, made possible by extensive research both at Ford and by the natural gas industry, has been utilized in the Crown Victoria program. "This alliance is a promising first step in bringing natural gas vehicles to several significant markets," said Stephen D. Ban, president and CEO of GRI. "Low mileage results to date show excellent driveability, and emissions are well within California's standards for ultra-low-emission vehicles, which begin to take effect in 1998."
 Under the Clean Air Act, federal and state governments are requiring fleets of 10 or more vehicles operating in the 22 most polluted cities to begin phasing in clean-air vehicles. By 1999, 50 percent of the vehicles purchased by fleets in those cities must meet new emissions standards. The percentage will rise to 70 percent in 2000 and beyond. Some states, such as California, are speeding up that timetable.
 The majority of thought leaders feel that the best way to meet low emission requirements is through the use of alternative fuels, such as natural gas. Because natural gas is North American sourced, it also is an attractive fuel for meeting the requirements of the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. This requires that up to 75 percent of the cars and trucks purchased annually by federal and state agencies by the year 2000 operate on alternative fuels.
 "If we're going to have a cleaner environment, the development and use of clean-burning vehicles must be accelerated and Ford's natural gas-powered Crown Victoria project is going to add a lot of velocity," said Richard D. Farman, chairman and CEO of Southern California Gas Co. "I'm confident this joint program will demonstrate that natural gas vehicles offer high performance, are cost effective to produce and provide the environmental and economic benefits the public wants and expects."
 To help create and support the market for natural gas vehicles, Southern California Gas has initiated the development of the fueling infrastructure. By the end of this year, SoCalGas will have opened 51 refueling stations and plans to open one new station every 1 1/2 weeks for the next four years.
 The Crown Victoria's 4.6-liter, V8 natural gas engine includes such modifications as an increased compression ratio, an electronically controlled gaseous fuel injection system, and a special catalyst to control exhaust emissions. Sensors continually monitor engine performance and make adjustments to accommodate variations in fuel composition.
 Four natural gas storage cylinders replace the gasoline tank in the Crown Victoria. Drivers can refuel in a matter of minutes using a quick fill compressor station or in a few hours using a small home compressor unit.
 Ford also has received $4.5 million in funding from GRI and Southern California Gas Co. for its separate, $23 million program to develop natural gas versions of the Ford Econoline and F-Series pickup trucks.
 GRI is a not-for-profit research and development organization that works on behalf of the natural gas industry and its customers. Southern California Gas Co. is the nation's largest natural gas distribution company with over 4.6 million customers.
 -0- 2/5/93
 /CONTACT: Linda H. Lee of Ford Motor Company, 313-845-5746; Scott Schaedel of GRI, 312-399-8128; or Denise King of Southern California Gas Co., 213-244-3030/
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company; Southern California Gas Co.;
 Gas Research Institute ST: Illinois, Michigan, California IN: AUT OIL IN: PDT


JG-SB -- DE010 -- 3491 02/05/93 11:31 EST
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Date:Feb 5, 1993
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