At an Amsterdam Car Conference last week, Ford's Executive VP Lewis Booth called global warming "one of the biggest challenges facing our planet". He outlined Ford's solutions to the climate problem: thinking big.

“A few expensive hybrid cars with limited customer uptake concentrated in a few metropolitan areas is, quite frankly, no answer,” said Lewis Booth. “That’s a luxury [neither] we, nor the environment can afford.”

Booth is Vice President of Ford Europe. He spoke last week at the New Powertrain Technologies Conference at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam, organised by Automotive News Europe. Instead of thinking about small scale innovations, Booth prefers so-called volume solutions which are both acceptable and affordable for the majority of customers.

Booth said: “We need volume solutions that can rapidly be adopted. Our aim is to bring environmental motoring into the mainstream and our product strategy firmly supports that goal.” One of the things Ford is developing is smaller but more powerful petrol engines that will enable downsizing the engines in the next generation of cars. Booth expects the smaller engines will decrease fuel consumption and consequently CO2 emissions by about 20%. Some of the technical features used are: direct high-pressure fuel injection, efficient turbo-charging, advanced valve actuation and stop-start technology.

Ford regards biofuels as complementary fuels which will probably not displace fossil fuels as much as dilute them. Still, Booth expects that the EU biofuel target (10% by 2020) will reduce car emissions by 20 grammes of CO2 per kilometre, which equals 10 to 15% emissions reduction from vehicles. “We look forward to advanced, second generation biofuels which can be used in the existing car fleet without special modification,” said Booth.

Some other ways to reduce emissions that Booth mentioned are reduced vehicle weight; advanced transmissions; driver information systems; and selectable software driving modes which should help drivers to take maximum profit from the fuel economy technologies provided. Booth also had advice for policymakers, who, he urged, should concentrate on the outcome and not on the technical solutions.

“Government should not try to second-guess the motor or fuel industries as to specific technical solutions or customer preferences. For government to promote one technology over another would lead to market distortion and could stifle both innovation and customer preference.”