Fancy! Ford Fusion's new-fangled instrument panel.
PowerSouth has added a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid to the headquarters pool car fleet as part of the co-op’s exploration of energy efficiency options. The hybrid vehicle was purchased during the 2010 budget year and introduced to the fleet in May.
“More than anything, we just wanted to test the capabilities of a hybrid for ourselves,” said Terry Wilson, Manager of T&D Operation and Maintenance — the department responsible for the fleet. “We’re interested in discovering the comprehensive reliability, gas efficiency and economy of the vehicle to better determine whether or not it’s a positive alternative PowerSouth would like to continue pursuing in the future.”
Like most hybrid vehicles, the Fusion Hybrid runs off of a battery-powered electric motor at lower speeds. The vehicle shifts to full use of the gas engine — or, in some cases, a combination of gas and electric power — on the highway and at faster speeds.
Fleet Maintenance Supervisor Chuck Dutton tested the vehicle on a recent drive to Birmingham, Ala. He said the car averaged 38.9 mpg on the highway. After a round-trip drive of roughly 365 miles, the vehicle still did not require fueling.
“I was very impressed by the Ford Fusion Hybrid,” said Dutton. “Not only was it fuel efficient, but it also handled very well.”
According to Wilson, it will take years to fully determine the reliability and fuel efficiency of the hybrid vehicle in our fleet.
“We’re interested in knowing the life expectancy of the vehicle’s battery bank and how much it will cost to replace it. Typically we try to keep passenger cars in the fleet operational for 10 years or until they reach 150,000 miles,” he said.
Through the Cooperative Research Network, housed at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, cooperatives are also testing a number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.