Hydrogen Hybrid Fuel Cell
(from Ford Press
Release) TWO AMERICAN ICONS DELIVER THE CROSSOVER MODEL OF
THE FUTURE WITH THE FORD AIRSTREAM CONCEPT
is exploding: Ford Airstream Concept speaks to the future of
crossovers as the market segment is projected to top 3 million
units annually by the end of the decade.
Ford Airstream Concept is powered by a new plug-in hydrogen
hybrid fuel cell – called HySeries Drive – that operates under
electric power at all times and delivers the combined
city/highway equivalent fuel economy of 41 miles per gallon.
Two icons of
American transportation: Ford and Airstream have teamed up
to deliver a futuristic crossover concept, showing what
tomorrow’s road trip vehicles could look like.
DETROIT, Mich. , Jan. 7,
2007 – Playing to win in the growing crossover segment, Ford has
joined with another iconic company to showcase how it could further
expand its lineup of expressive crossovers with the Ford Airstream
“Crossovers are an increasingly important part of our business, and
Ford is going to continue developing an expressive range of these
vehicles,” says Peter Horbury, executive director – Design, The
Americas. “The Ford Airstream Concept is a futuristic look at
crossovers. It’s the ultimate modern touring vehicle that delivers
flexibility and capability with dynamic design that evokes the
spirit of the journey.”
The concept is powered by a plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell
drivetrain – called HySeries Drive™ – that operates under electric
power at all times. This advanced fuel cell system is half the
weight and cost of today’s fuel cells and can operate in the dead of
winter. That’s a major step forward because today’s fuel cells don’t
do well when the mercury dips below freezing.
The Ford Airstream
Concept captures the sense of optimism and adventure conveyed in
American aircraft, spacecraft and the streamlined shape of Airstream
trailers. It’s reflected in the crossover concept’s organic,
fuselage-inspired form language, unique reflective paint and 12
ceremonial rivets, which pay homage to Airstream’s iconic
“For 75 years, Airstream has been an icon synonymous with the
optimism, discovery and wanderlust that’s helped defined America,”
said J Mays, group vice president – Design, and chief creative
officer. “It seemed only fitting for us to come together through our
shared passion for the open road and show a vision for the future of
Much like Ford, Airstream began with one man’s dream. In 1931, Wally
Byam began leveraging aircraft-construction methods to make trailers
aimed at feeding Americans’ surging desire to travel.
“Silver bullets” have been shooting up and down highways ever since,
leading a Recreational Vehicle industry that’s realized record
profits and revenues in 2005 and the first half of 2006.
“Business for Airstream and the RV industry has been strong, but we
want to continue finding options for tomorrow’s road trips. Our
success in recent years has come from challenging the conventional
thinking about what an Airstream is. The Ford Airstream Concept is a
stunning example of just that,” says Bob Wheeler, president and
chief executive officer of Airstream. “Plus, a partner like Ford,
with its long history as an American icon, made perfect sense for
this kind of exploration.”
Both companies are
influenced by economic and demographic trends – chiefly baby boomers
approaching retirement age.
In the U.S., 11,000 people turn age 50 every day. These consumers
are starting to downsize their lives and their vehicles, opting for
more nimble and fuel-efficient models. With their children leaving
home and some retiring, they also have more time for travel.
For Ford, that trend – plus younger couples starting families later
– is fueling a shift to crossover vehicles.
The crossover segment is expected to hit 3 million units by the end
of the decade, making it potentially the largest U.S. vehicle
For Airstream, these demographic changes are meaningful as well. RV
ownership is highest among retirement-age consumers, and by the end
of the decade, 50- to 64-year-old consumers will tally
57 million – a 38 percent increase versus 2000, according to
University of Michigan studies.
And the number of RV-owning households is expected to grow to 8.5
million during the same period.
Seeing the Future Today
Growing Ford’s crossover
share means breaking through the competitive and fragmenting
segment, and the company is leveraging bold designs to win
Ford’s crossover lineup already features the functional Freestyle,
newly launched agile and modern Edge and, in time, will include a
more refined full-size crossover based on the Fairlane concept.
Ford designers wanted to push further into the future and tapped
inspirations including Airstream’s iconic designs and the optimistic
future Stanley Kubrick created and captured in his 1960s cult film
2001: A Space Odyssey. These inspirations are evident – inside and
The concept’s bold, futuristic front-end explores a new look for
Ford, encapsulating the single-surface grille and headlamps into the
same graphic. Each of the concept’s bold orange-trimmed window
graphics is a unique shape.
“This reflects the purpose of the vehicle: looking out and
remembering that the journey – not the destination – matters most,”
said Freeman Thomas, director, North American Strategic Design. “The
Ford Airstream Concept is an ultra-modern, optimistic vehicle that
allows passengers a pure traveling experience to enjoy with good
company, no matter the destination .”
Its doors are asymmetric as well, allowing for easy loading of
passengers and cargo. In addition to the driver’s side hatch, the
passenger side features a power clamshell door that runs two-thirds
the length of the vehicle. A three-door hatch finishes the rear of
The futuristic theme and
modern form language of the exterior carries through to the
“Through the materials, color palette and technology, the Ford
Airstream Concept has distinct cues from the spacecraft and
environments portrayed in 2001: A Space Odyssey,” says Thomas.
“We’re able to maximize the spaciousness of the interior, creating a
lounge atmosphere in contrasting colors of cosmic red and white that
provides an inviting experience for the ultimate journey.”
The Ford Airstream Concept features a floating instrument panel with
flush-mounted, touch-sensitive controls and a multi-function single
gauge display provides the driver all primary information.
A Sharp® dual-view screen centrally mounted on the instrument panel
provides a camera view and secondary driver-oriented information,
while allowing the front-seat passenger to view DVDs and post mobile
blogs. The driver and front-seat passenger will navigate in style in
modern, pod-shaped swiveling captain’s chairs that also rotate so
they can easily socialize.
In the rear, lounge-like seating is sculptural, creating a
continuous cocoon-like environment wrapped in bold red B&B Italia
fabric. The focal point of the rear seating area is a 360-degree
screen for entertainment and games. The unique screen also creates
ambient mood settings, including a modern lava lamp and virtual
fire, as well as a live camera feed.
How the Rubber Meets the Road
The new HySeries Drive
plug-in hydrogen fuel cell featured in the Ford Airstream Concept is
more than a concept.
This powertrain is already on the road and driving in a Ford Edge
prototype. Ford scientists and engineers created this vehicle with
partial funding from the United States Department of Energy. The
HySeries Drive delivers the combined city/highway equivalent fuel
economy of 41 miles per gallon.
In this application, the fuel cell’s sole function is to recharge
the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack as needed. This allows it to
work like a portable generator, instead of an engine, as had been
the case in previous Ford fuel cell vehicles.
The new fuel cell, supplied by Ford partner Ballard, operates in a
steady state, allowing a significantly smaller, less expensive fuel
cell and drastically improving the durability of the fuel cell. With
this system, the fuel cell delivers the power needed to recharge the
lithium-ion batteries, rather than to be the primary power source to
drive the wheels, as in a typical fuel cell-powered vehicle.
In pure electric mode, the Ford Airstream Concept can travel 25
miles before the fuel cell begins operating to recharge the
vehicle’s 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. With the
hydrogen-powered fuel cell, the range increases another 280 miles
for a total of 305 miles.
Safety belts remain the
most important safety technology in vehicles. Ford is researching
several new safety belt designs, including four-point safety belts
found in the front seats of the Ford Airstream Concept.
“Inside, outside and under the hood, the Ford Airstream Concept
speaks to the future,” Mays said. “Ford is looking out onto the
horizon and imbuing crossovers with emotion, made even more powerful
by our association with Airstream.”
Ford Airstream Concept
Ford’s HySeries Drive plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell
Overall length: .......................185.0 in.
Wheelbase: .............................125.9 in.
Overall width: ..........................78.9 in.
Overall height at curb: ..............70.6 in.
Front: .......................................67.6 in.
Rear: ........................................69.2 in.
Front: ................. Double wishbone-independent suspension
Rear: ..................Multi-link independent
Front: .......................................37.5 in.
Second Row: ............................36.2 in.
Front: .......................................39.6 in.
Second Row: ............................33.1 in.