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December 14, 2017 News of the Day: Ford to End North American Production of the Fusion, Hyundai Plans to Build Up to 38 More Electric Vehicles

December 14, 2017 News of the Day: Ford to End North American Production of the Fusion, Hyundai Plans to Build Up to 38 More Electric Vehicles

Author: Eric Walz   

Ford to End North American Production of the Fusion

Ford will stop building the Fusion sedan in North America by the end of the decade, according to a report from Automotive News. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the report claims Ford has told suppliers it will not build the Fusion at its current home plant in Hermosillo, Mexico when it enters its third generation.

The report brings up the question of whether Ford will stop selling the Fusion in the U.S. or simply build it at another global plant. Ford expressed the importance of the Fusion to its lineup in a recent statement, also saying it won't export the next-gen model from China to North America and Europe.

"We have no plans to export the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo from China to North America and Europe," Ford said in an emailed statement to Motor Trend. "Fusion/Mondeo are an important part of the Ford car lineup. We will have more to share about the next-generation Fusion/Mondeo at a later date."

Several months ago, Ford said it would offer fewer car nameplates in the future. The company is also reallocating $7 billion from cars to trucks and SUVs including the upcoming Ranger.

According to one source cited by Automotive News, Ford will produce the third-generation Fusion starting in 2020. It will be a 2021 model year vehicle. Fusion sales are down 22 percent for the first 11 months of this year in the U.S.

Recently, it was reported that Ford no longer plans to build an electric SUV at its Flat Rock plant in Michigan. Production of that model has been moved to Ford's Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico, reports say.

Hyundai Plans to Add Up to 38 More Electric Vehicles to its Lineup

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Bloomberg has reported Hyundai Motor Group plans to introduce as many as 38 new environmentally friendly vehicles over the next eight years. The cars will be spread across Hyundai and Kia nameplates, with seven new models arriving in the next five years. Many of them will reportedly be all-electric. Kia is majority owned by Hyundai.

"Hyundai should have become a first mover of EVs, but it is still staying as a fast follower," Kim Phil-soo, a professor of automotive engineering at Daelim University near Seoul, told Bloomberg. "Hyundai is late by about three years."

Hyundai's efforts to build environmentally friendly vehicles have previously been focused on hydrogen fuel cells. However, the increased consumer interest in EVs has forced the company to rethink its plans, and to concentrate on electrified models first. Hyundai says it simply needs to rely on EVs until fuel infrastructure and economies of scale make hydrogen power profitable.

"There are 1,200 battery-powered carmakers in the world, while only three automakers have the technology to produce fuel-cell cars," Senior Vice President Lee Ki-sang recently told reporters. "We see that the hydrogen car is an ultimate direction but we are not saying we will put everything on it. We will push for both of EV and FCV for now."

Hyundai plans to soon offer an electric version of its new Kona CUV, but it will also introduce a hydrogen fuel-cell SUV in certain markets.

Chrsyler's 3.6-liter Pentastar eHybrid Named One of Wards 10 Best Engines

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Editors at WardsAuto have named the 3.6-liter Pentastar eHybrid one of Wards 10 Best Engines for 2018. The achievement marks the second time the hybrid powertrain has been honored. The 3.6-liter Pentastar eHybrid was named to the prestigious annual list last year, when it debuted in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan.

The plug-in hybrid propulsion system makes the Pacifica Hybrid the most efficient minivan ever produced, based on its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 84 miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) – a measure that accounts for a plug-in hybrid vehicle's combined use of electricity and gasoline, in city and highway-cycle testing.

The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid also excels on two other efficiency fronts, with EPA driving-range ratings of 33 miles in electric-only mode, and 570 total miles.

"We knew this was a special project when we were asked to develop the most fuel-efficient minivan ever," says Bob Lee, Head of Engine Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering, FCA – North America. "Receiving this award, especially for the second time, validates our early conviction – as do reports from our customers." FCA US has engaged 100 Pacifica Hybrid customers who have agreed to participate in monthly ownership-experience surveys over a two-year period. To date, 47 percent of respondents report more driving range than expected, with 22 percent saying they have observed "much more."

Wards 10 Best Engines judge Drew Winter said, "The Pacifica Hybrid is a big, seven-passenger plug-in hybrid minivan with all the bells and whistles families have come to adore, but with 33 miles of full electric range and levels of fuel efficiency unimaginable just a few short years ago," says Drew Winter, Senior Content Director at WardsAuto. "With most owners using their minivans to run errands and occasionally take a long-distance drive, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a stroke of genius."

Central to the vehicle's performance is its eFlite electrically variable transmission. An in-house FCA US innovation, it was developed by a team of engineers assigned exclusively to the task of delivering a high-efficiency driving experience.

Conventional electrification schemes dedicate one motor to serve as a generator and a second motor, usually much larger, to deliver torque to the wheels. The Pacifica's eFlite gearbox uses a one-way clutch that enables the motor typically used only as a generator, to power the wheels, depending on driving conditions. The result is increased efficiency.

The lifeblood of the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is located under the second-row floor. Recharging can take as little as two hours using an optional 240-volt (Level 2) charger, available from Mopar through dealers.

When the battery's energy is depleted to a certain threshold, the Pacifica Hybrid becomes a part-time electric vehicle, like a conventional hybrid, to maximize energy and efficiency. Power to the wheels is supplied by the electric drive system or supplemented by a specially adapted version of the gasoline-powered Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, which was named one of Wards 10 Best Engines in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

U.S. Among Initial Launch Markets for Polestar 1

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The Polestar 1

The United States will be among the first countries to be offered the new Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid when  deliveries start in 2019. The other markets include Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and China.

Polestar says the countries were selected in part due to the level of interest surrounding the Polestar 1. Since the car's reveal in October, potential customers have been able to register their interest via Polestar's website. Actual orders won't be booked until early 2018, however.

Polestar will offer its cars via a subscription model similar to Volvo's new ‘Care by Volvo' program. You pay a monthly fee that in addition to the car covers the cost of insurance and servicing. The subscription will also provide access to other services to be announced closer to launch. Basically, your only additional cost will be fuel.

Polestar is also looking at traditional outright sales. Polestar spokesman Duncan Forrester told Motor Authority in October that the price on a Polestar 1 would likely start at around $150,000.

The $150,000 price tag seems high compared to a fully decked out Tesla Model S, but buyers will get a state of the art vehicle. The Polestar's body is almost entirely composed of carbon fiber, and the plug-in hybrid powertrain is rated at 600 horsepower with 738 pound-feet of torque. A supercharged and turbocharged inline-4 powers the front wheels while a pair of electric motors power the rear wheels. The vehicle is also able to travel on electric power alone, in which case the range will be approximately 93 miles.

Within two years of the arrival of the Polestar 1, Polestar will add a Polestar 2 electric sedan, Polestar 3 electric SUV, and a fourth model likely to be a convertible.

Production of the Polestar 1 and all future models from the brand will take place at a plant currently under construction in China.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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