Gasoline-electric hybrid technology continues to gain momentum and Ford Motor Company researchers are working hard to advance innovative hybrid solutions to address consumer interest. Ford unveiled a hydrogen-fueled, battery-powered plug-in Ford Edge at the 2007 Washington (D.C.) Auto Show in January.

Unveiling the hybrid Edge in Washington helped Ford showcase the vehicle and its technology in front of leading government officials and legislators, an important audience as Congress begins working under new leadership.

"Besides the public, the audience in Washington includes the people in charge of energy and clean air policy so this is very much a showplace for exhibiting what Ford technology can do in the future," said Scott Staley, Ford's chief engineer for Hybrid and Fuel Cell Technology Development.

Developed under contract from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Edge is powered by the HySeries Drive, a hybrid-electric propulsion system that uses the fuel-cell power unit as a charger for the 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle operates in battery-only mode for the first 25 miles at speeds of up to 85 mph. When the battery is depleted to 40 percent of its charge, the fuel cell automatically kicks in to recharge the battery, giving the car a range of 225 miles.

The technology gives the vehicle the equivalent of a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 41 mpg. The vehicle's battery pack can also be recharged overnight by plugging it into a standard electrical outlet. Hybrid electric vehicles combine batteries and internal combustion engines (ICEs) in an arrangement that harnesses the strengths of each powertrain. In hybrids, batteries provide energy for launch and power surges as needed, while the ICE predominates once the vehicle exceeds approximately 30 mph. Ford introduced the world's first SUV hybrid, the Escape Hybrid in 2004. Along with the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, the two hybrids remain the cleanest and most fuel-efficient small SUVs available anywhere. Ford also plans to introduce several new hybrids in the coming years, including a Mazda Tribute Hybrid and hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan midsize sedans.