Ford Extends Focus Fuel Cell Program

Thirty-six months down, twenty-four to go.; After three years of successful service, thirty Ford Focus Fuel Cell prototypes have been given a new lease on life.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Ford’s extended the test program until 2010, giving the hand-built prototypes another two years on the road.

Ford claims the Focii, all first-generation examples of Ford’s fuel cell research, have lasted “three times longer” than originally expected.; The success was apparently enough to warrant an extension of the program.

The extra time allows Ford to collect more real-world testing data, which it then plans to incorporate into a next-generation fuel cell vehicle currently under development.

The Focus FCV prototypes, presently running across the U.S. and in Europe, were hand-built in 2005.; All use a fuel cell stack supplied by Ballard, a tank capable of storing four kilograms of hydrogen, and an 87 hp electric motor.

According to Ford, the cars have garnered positive reviews from users, and we can see why.; By ditching the standard 2.0-liter I-4, the Focus FCV loses all the noise and vibration most expect from an older Focus.; Instead, the car proved to be remarkably refined and whisper-quiet in most driving situations.

A common complaint among users lies with the car’s limited range.; At best, a Focus FCV filled with hydrogen can run up to 225 miles before refueling.; Ford’s trying to rectify that problem by doubling the amount of hydrogen stored on-board.