As the Ford plug-in hybrid travels down Village Road, a short distance from the maker’s corporate headquarters, the driver notices a subtle shudder from under the hood. A quick glance down at the instrument panel reveals that the car’s four-cylinder gas engine has shut off, leaving the sedan to run solely on battery power.
A few miles later, the process reverses itself, the car’s engine automatically firing up again as it exits out of an area marked in green on the Fusion’s video navigation screen.
Though still in the development stage, Ford’s Green Zone system promises to improve the energy efficiency of its battery-based vehicles. It could also help motorists avoid tolls and penalties as a growing number of cities enact restrictions on driving conventionally powered automobiles in inner cities, such as London. The technology also could be used, Ford researchers say, to improve the functionality of other vehicle functions, including headlights and transmissions. (more…)