Ford’s newest hybrid system will look to use lithium-ion batteries, replacing the heavier, bigger, and more expensive nickel-metal-hydride batteries. While the new system is projected to return 47-mpg in the Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrids, Ford says the Li-Ion batteries will help reduce its use of rare earth metals by half a million pounds a year.
Chuck Gray, a chief engineer involved with Ford’s hybrid and electric vehicles, said “we’re continually looking to find ways to provide greater fuel efficiency as well as cost savings to customers of our hybrid vehicles, and the reduction of rare earth metals is a key part of this strategy.” Ford says it will use about half the amount of dysprosium—the most expensive rare earth metal used in the automaker’s vehicles. In addition to being less expensive, the batteries are lighter which will help improve fuel economy.
The C-Max Hybrid will start at $25,995. Progression of Ford’s hybrid program is slated to continue as the Detroit automaker plans to triple production of electric vehicles by 2013. Fusion customers will also be able to choose between gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrain options.