There is buzz emerging in the automotive world that Ford will launch a new hybrid version of the F150 in 2008 that will have a 400% improvement in fuel economy over the standard gasoline F150. Based on a joint research and technology development agreement between Ford and the EPA, dating back to 2001, the Hydraulic Hybrid Techology is poised to overtake the current gas-electric technology used in vehicles like Toyota’s Prius.
The system uses hydraulic pressure to recapture energy lost through braking, then releases the pressure during acceleration. The EPA estimates hydraulic hybrids could improve fuel economy up to 55 percent, versus 30 percent to 40 percent for a conventional gas-electric hybrid.
While he news is a little sketchy and definately under-wraps – no one at Ford has publically confirmed this – there are several online sources which point to this being more than wishful thinking. Detroit News also published a fairly comprehensive article on the efforts last year.
Considering that F150 sales are down nearly 2% in 2006 (Explorer and Expedition are down 30%), attributed to rising fuel prices, simply a 20% increase in fuel economy over the 16mpg average for the F150 would have been blockbuster. We can only suspect that a 60mpg F150 could be the ticket to turnaround for Ford, assuming they can pull it of in time.