The all-new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is expected to achieve 47 MPG in the city and 44 MPG on the highway, making it America’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable sedan. These kinds of vehicles aren’t created, and engineered overnight. Rather, they’re the result of a continuous dedication to research, development, and innovation — something in which Ford continually invests, even during the economic downturn.
Partly responsible for the Fusion Hybrid is Ming Kuang — technical leader in vehicle controls at Ford Electrification Research and Advanced Engineering. Kuang’s innovations can be found across Ford’s product portfolio, one third of which achieves 40 MPG. Through research, Kuang helped grow The Blue Oval’s patent portfolio from 10 in 2009 to nearly 500 today. To understand just how big of an increase that represents, consider that as recently as 2000, Ford owned only 10 patents related to hybrid technology. That started to change with the Escape Hybrid, which was the first hybrid vehicle from a U.S.-based automaker.
By 2002, Ford held approximately 30 patents related to hybrid technology. The amount of patents began to increased in the mid 2000s, when CEO Alan Mulally implemented the One Ford strategy designed to accelerate development and increase the competitiveness of new products globally. Today, Ford holds about 500 hybrid-related patents that the automaker is either using or plans on using in its products; the company doesn’t engage in the practice of getting patents for the sake of getting patents.
“We get the high-quality patents that Ford really needs,” said Ford attorney David Kelley. “With the high level of innovation from people like Ming, it makes sense that we should see our hybrid patent levels increase the way they have.”
The Motrolix Take
Not only has Ford vastly improved the desirability of its vehicles thanks to the increased rate of development, engineering, and innovation, it also has attained a clear leadership position in hybrid technology among U.S. automakers. The Fusion Hybrid is but one example of such leadership, while the Fusion Energi — due out this fall — is another. Nevertheless, the amount of patents is nothing more than a by-product of the innovation carried out by Ford engineers like Kuang. Our favorite quote:
“One of the best parts of being involved with Ford’s electrified vehicle group is that they are never satisfied,” said Ford chief engineer of global electrified programs Eric Kuehn. “They are always striving to go further and see how far they can push toward creating even larger gaps between Ford and its competitors. That is ingrained in the culture and mindset of the team here and isn’t going to change anytime soon.”
Give credit where credit is due: rock on Ford, rock on!