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2009 Ford Fleet Preview and Police Advisory Board

Written by Law and Order Staff

Mark Fields, Ford’s executive vice president and president of the Americas, opened the 2009 Ford Fleet Preview by introducing the Euro-based Transit Connect, a small and fuel-efficient delivery and passenger van. Fields said the fleet business is important to Ford, amounting to 30% of the U.S. volume. He also said that Ford’s quality is now better than Honda and equal to Toyota.

Ford is in the middle of a product-led turnaround. Compared to 2005, 70% of their vehicles would be new or greatly changed by 2008, and 100% would be new by 2010. The production of the Ford CVPI, now extended until 2011, is the only exception.

Fields also introduced the new Ford Flex, a seven-passenger, three-row seat, full-size crossover, in this case, something between an SUV and a minivan. Also introduced was the Lincoln MKS, which is a heads-up, feature-by-feature competitor to the Cadillac CTS.

The fleet preview also included glimpses of the 2010 Fusion and Taurus, and a hands-on look at 2010 Fiesta. Both the Fusion and Taurus have major styling cues from Ford of Europe’s redesigned Mondeo, and that is a very good thing.

All New F-150
Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” introduced the new 2009 Ford F-150. There is no one better suited to introduce the new F-150, the pickup most used by the nation’s hard workers. “Dirty Jobs” highlights the tough and dirty jobs that are all a part of an honest day’s work. “Dirty Jobs” is actually a way to pay tribute to America’s workers and the work ethic that literally built America. The program takes a look at the world of work beyond the 9 to 5 in a cubicle.

“Work is not the enemy,” Rowe said. While trade school enrollment continues to decline, it is that hands-on training that produces the people who built this country. These are the people who work for work’s sake, not work for the weekend.

We will be covering the all-new 2009 F-150 later. Until then, know that the truck is a major redesign from the 2004 redesign. Perhaps the biggest fleet news is the availability of the 5.4L 3-valve V-8 FlexFuel engine teamed with a 6-speed auto available in the XL Trim SuperCrew. The 5.4L 3-valve V-8 has the same fuel economy as the 4.6L 2-valve V-8, and it has 50 hp more and 70 lb-ft more torque.

The 2009 F-150 has AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ as standard equipment. It also includes front and side-curtain airbags. The 2009 F-150 incorporates all of the tailgate innovations and the Ford Work Solutions™ technologies introduced earlier on the Super Duty trucks.

Pat Schiavone, Ford’s director of truck design, further explained the features of the new F-150. The front end is 4 inches higher than the 2004 design and has a tougher look. Aerodynamic standards were met by having the bolder hood leading edge taper to each side. The 2004 F-150 interior was prettier, more upscale and more car-like. In contrast, the 2009 F-150 interior is chunkier, bolder and more like a truck.

The B-pillar has been moved back 6 inches to get it out of the driver’s peripheral vision. This shifted B-pillar is the same on all cab styles. The tailgate step and fold away tailgate extender are adapted straight from the 2008 Super Duty introduced much earlier. The 2009 F-150 will be produced in the third quarter of 2008.

Sustainability
Sue Cischke, Ford’s group VP, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, explained Ford’s global plan in terms of financial aspects, social responsibilities and environmental stewardship. Ford is convinced that no single fuel strategy is the solution. As a result, officials have a variety of near-term, mid-term and long-term solutions. The basic strategy is a move to smaller and lighter vehicles powered by smaller but more powerful engines that are more fuel efficient and produce less, or no, emissions.

The turbo direct injection and the 6-speed transaxle are just a few of the engine advances. More subtle changes include electric-assist power steering to ease the demand on engines. The concept is to eliminate as many parasitic losses from the engine as possible. Bio-diesel and E85 are a part of the future, as are gas-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen-internal combustion engines (H2-ICE) are also part of the future. In a decade, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be common. No kidding.

EcoBoost GTDI
Here’s a thought. What if the most fuel-efficient, lowest total cost powertrain were simply an advanced gasoline engine? A gasoline engine with the lowest combined initial cost and operating cost? Not hybrid, not diesel, not E85. In many uses, and that definitely includes typical law enforcement, Ford thinks this is the way to go. EcoBoost is Ford’s name for gasoline turbocharged direct injection, GTDI. Ford firmly believes this is the powertrain technology for the next decade.

E85 FlexFuel is “an” answer, especially for Midwest states. Hybrid is “an” answer for some applications with lots of stop-start driving. The upcharge for full hybrids may not be paid back by fuel savings. The mild hybrids offer very little real gas improvements. The same 2-mpg improvement can come from a slight change in driving habits and cruise speeds.

As a result, Ford’s main effort is to improve fuel efficiency of the gas engine. As fuel efficiency goes up, emissions go down. Gasoline-powered engines with variable valvetrains and 6-speed transaxles, and smaller engines with turbo direct injection may be the best overall cost solution.

Ford’s 3.5L DOHC V-6 engine produces 265 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. This is the engine in the current version of Taurus. In comparison, the GTDI version of this same 3.5L engine produces 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. To put a GTDI engine in perspective, this Ford 3.5L V-6 produces more horsepower and almost as much torque as the Dodge 5.7L HEMI V-8.

The GTDI engine uses twin turbos, one per cylinder bank. These are very small, fixed vane turbos, and these GTDI turbos operate independently of one another. This is unlike Ford’s diesel truck engines that use a smaller, variable-vane, high-pressure turbo to feed a larger, fixed-vane, low-pressure turbo.

Direct Injection
The GTDI engine uses direct injection. That means the gasoline charge is injected directly onto the top of the piston at extremely high pressures, i.e., about 10,000 psi. Among all its other advantages, direct injection allows a 10:1 compression ratio, where most turbocharged and supercharged engines have 8.5:1 or 9:1 compression ratios.

Direct injection also allows a 10-psi turbo boost, where most turbo and supercharged engine operate at an 8-psi boost. Direct injection also produces a remarkable flat torque curve. The GTDI engine achieves max torque at just 1,500 rpm, which is a much lower rpm than all turbos and most supercharged engines.

The GTDI technology will be used first on the 3.5L V-6, the workhorse of Ford’s passenger car lineup. Expect to start seeing these engines in 2009. Expect the 1.6L DOHC Inline 4-cylinder to be the next GTDI engine. At the start, GTDI engines will use gasoline or E10 gasohol. In the future, the GTDI engine will be able to use E85 ethanol.

This engine will appear first in the Lincoln MKS, then the Ford Flex, and then a variety of vehicles. Ford plans on producing a half million EcoBoost engines in the next five years. GTDI is its main, near-term solution.

Full hybrids are also part of the near-term plan. In 2009, the Ford Fusion Hybrid will join the Ford Escape Hybrid. E85 ethanol and bio-diesel fuels are also a part of the near-term solution. This carries over to a mid-term solution as ethanol is made from cellulosic materials instead of corn.

Ford’s mid-term approach involves plug-in hybrids. This drivetrain uses a gasoline engine and a plug-in lithium ion battery, either of which can propel the vehicle. Hydrogen-only and plug-in hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicles are the long-term solution. On a plug-in hydrogen hybrid, the propulsion comes from the plug-in lithium ion battery. The hydrogen fuel cell recharges the battery once it gets low.

Technology
John Sakioka, Ford’s director of technology, emphasized the technical advances in the new Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex, Ford Edge and F-150. This includes Microsoft SYNC 2.0, a software upgrade that includes 9-1-1 assistance and a vehicle health and scheduled maintenance report. SIRIUS Traffic link provides real-time local traffic, current gasoline prices and current local weather. The interior blind spot mirror includes lane change alert and a built-in rear view camera.

All of this technology was on display at the hands-on Innovation & Technology Center at the Fleet Preview. Ford also displayed the Edge with the HySeries Drive™, an electric battery-hydrogen fuel cell hybrid. This Edge runs on the plug-in battery only for the first 25 miles at speeds up to 85 mph.

When the battery is depleted to 40%, the auxiliary hydrogen fuel cell starts up to recharge the battery. This extends the range by an additional 200 miles. Again, the sole purpose of the hydrogen fuel cell is to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack. This Edge is equipped with hydrogen fueling ports and 110-volt or 220-volt electric plug-ins.

Other options are to combine a plug-in battery pack with a gasoline engine. Chevrolet’s Volt concept vehicle uses a small gasoline engine to charge a plug-in, lithium-ion battery. The Ford approach is to allow the gasoline to actually propel the vehicle.

Valet Street Drive
The Valet Street Drive was an opportunity for fleet managers to drive a couple dozen different 2009 Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Mazda and Volvo vehicles. The new F-150, Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex and Ford Edge were in the most demand. One vehicle, however, was driven literally all day: the 2002 Focus Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle.

From a production run of 30 vehicles, these Gen I hydrogen cars have logged about 800,000 actual street miles. The industry has come a long way since the Gen I hydrogen, but this Focus was simply astonishing. And it had enough power to smoke the front tires.

Also available was a hydrogen-powered Explorer test mule. This one was built to meet the DOE standards of a 300-mile range on one fill, underhood service of some fuel cell components and the ability to operate in 4-wheel drive. Ford took the opportunity to also greatly reduce the noise, vibration and harshness of the fuel cell components, especially compressor.

Of all these challenges, the 4x4 requirement was the toughest. Each axle is separately driven by two different electric motors. Even given exactly the same current, no two electric motors perform exactly the same. On a 4-wheel drive vehicle, the drive motors must be in perfect synch and both in a straight line while turning.

Police Advisory Board
The 2009 Summer Police Advisory Board meeting was kicked off by Kevin Koswick, Ford’s director of North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations; John Ruppert, general manager of Commercial and Fleet Sales, and Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager, with a review of the business climate. Contrary to the hype on the news, Ford’s fleet market share has remained stable, and the sales volumes are also stable. Given everything happening in the automotive market, “stable” is good news.

Ford has had a significant shift in sales mix. In 2004, it sold 30% cars and crossovers and 70% trucks and SUVs. By 2007, this shifted to 49% cars and crossovers and 51% trucks and SUVs. That is almost a 20-percentage point shift in three years. This situation, however, has now accelerated. The tipping point was when gasoline hit $3.60 a gallon. This caused an additional 10-percentage point shift toward cars and crossovers and away from trucks and SUVs in just four months. It is difficult to respond to that large and rapid of a product mix change.

New for 2009
Ford also covered what is new for the 2009 Ford CVPI. The biggest change is the side airbag, which is now standard and cannot be deleted. This side airbag is actually a combination bag, i.e., basically a seat thorax airbag with a top extension. It is a single airbag that opens up to cover from hip level in the seat to the top of the headrest. This airbag deploys forward from the seat and then has an upward extension to protect the head. This is not a roof-rail airbag and should not interfere with standard prisoner partitions.

Also new for 2009, the CVPI has the next generation ABS braking software, a revision that reduces 60 mph stopping distances by 10 feet using the Michigan State Police braking test protocol. For 2009, adjustable pedals are standard on the CVPI. Finally, push-down, pull-up power window switches are standard. A chrome grille is now an option.

Service Issues
Chris Keady, Ford’s national fleet service manager, covered a few of the service issues with the Ford CVPI. The most important issue, the number one failure on 2007 model CVPI, is the electric motor failure on the radiator fan assembly. Be absolutely sure the replacement part is the new version, not the old version again. The new part number is 6W1Z-9H307-C. The old part number ended in “A.”

Drivability issues related to the fuel pump have almost always been traced to the use of higher levels of ethanol in non-FlexFuel engines. Ethanol is very corrosive and attacks or gums up the tank-mounted electric fuel pump. All cars will run on E10, which is 10% ethanol, and almost all gasoline sold today is E10, i.e., gasohol. However, the fuel quality across the country varies widely, and some regular unleaded gasoline has 15% to 20% ethanol. By mistake, some drivers put E85 in non-FlexFuel vehicles. The fuel pump is one of the first parts to fail under these situations.

Likewise, do not use aftermarket E85 conversion kits. There is more to being E85-capable than just the software to sense the amount of ethanol in the fuel. Every single component that touches the fuel, from the gas tank and fuel pump to the gas lines and fuel injectors, must be able to resist the corrosive effects of ethanol.

Water ingestion has caused some CVPI engines to seize. As little as 4 ounces of water can lock up an engine. The air intake snorkel on the CVPI is about 2 feet off the ground in the sheet metal surrounding the radiator. A lower air dam, or deflector, routes air up from below the front fascia into the radiator. Of course, this also can splash water into the intake snorkel. Attempts to baffle this to reduce a splash hazard also cause engine and trans temps to rise.

The CVPI can safely drive through 6 to 8 inches of water, i.e., up to the rocker panel and floor boards, as long as one simple rule is followed. NO WAKE. If your officers treat standing water like a no wake zone, and drive between 5 and 8 mph, water ingestion into the engine is not a problem. Driving rapidly, even through less depths of standing water, can cause a loss of the engine not covered by warranty.

Future Vehicles
All automakers are reluctant to talk about future model years, but the Ford CVPI is the exception. Ford Fleet wants to get the word out that the CVPI does indeed have a bright future. Production at the St. Thomas Assembly Plant has been extended by one year until the summer of 2011. The 2010 model will be a carryover from the 2009 model.

The 2011 model will get a new driver’s seat in response to federal mandates concerning the head rest and whiplash. Ford took this opportunity to also revise the foam in the seat bolster and seat back, to revise the lumbar support and to incorporate a cutout around the seatbelt buckle.

The rest of the Police Advisory Board meeting was devoted to the next generation police package vehicle, the one that will replace the CVPI as a 2012 model. Tony Gratson, Ford’s government sales manager, and Rob Stevens, Ford’s chief engineer, Panther Platform, moderated this discussion. While all of these planning steps are strictly confidential, police fleet managers need to know two things.

First, Ford officials understand the space and performance requirements for a police vehicle. Space, meaning front seat, rear seat and trunk. Performance, meaning acceleration, top speed, handling and fuel economy.

Second, they listen to the advice from a cross-section of their customers and especially from their Police Advisory Board. Board members themselves are sometimes sharply divided on their recommendations. Police vehicles always have, and always will, come from the ranks of retail vehicles. All recommendations must make financial sense, i.e., pass the business case review. All that said, Ford Fleet listens to its PAB.

No information on the vehicle to replace the Ford CVPI will be available for quite some time. And to be sure the future vehicle can seamlessly pick up where the CVPI lets off, the PAB meetings will increase to three times a year.

Published in Law and Order, Oct 2008

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