As auto show season starts to ramp up, plan on taking a look at Ford Motor Co.'s 2013 Fusion when you tour the showroom floor. The Fusion has just been named "Green Car of the Year" by Green Car Journal
thanks to its 47 mpg fuel efficiency and the reduced amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide it emits compared to many other cars. Plus, it's an affordable option for shoppers in the market for a new car who want more responsible environmental performance, too.
I drove one of the very first Ford Fusion hybrids a few years ago – and loved it. And that was before the car came in three different models. One option today is the "standard" Fusion. This model gets around 28 mpg overall, and costs around $21,000. Nice, but not enough to be considered "my" green car of the year.
However, the next two options are what make a difference. The Fusion Hybrid achieves 47 mpg, which is terrific compared to most cars on the market. And get this: the Energi model, a plug-in hybrid, is aiming to deliver an estimated 100 mpg. Plus the Energi is still available for a federal tax rebate.
Here's how the Energi works, according to the Ford website. "The new Fusion Energi …combines a high-voltage battery and electric motor with a gasoline engine. The high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack provides enough power to operate in all-electric mode for short commutes. Thanks to plug-in capability, you can charge the battery using a 120-volt outlet. Or you can use a 240-volt outlet, upgraded with electric vehicle supply equipment. To lessen any concern you may have about driving range, when the battery is depleted or more power is required, the vehicle functions as a traditional gas-electric hybrid. The Fusion Energi also features a Regenerative Braking System, allowing it to capture kinetic braking energy and store it for later use."
Earlier this year, I had the chance to interview Dr. Ellen Lee, an engineer and technical expert in plastics research at Ford Motor Company. Dr. Lee has helped develop some of the more eco-friendly materials going in to the Fusion and other Ford vehicles, including seat fabric and cushions made from soy. These "bio-based" innovations have helped Ford reduce its petroleum use by more than 3 million pounds annually while cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 million pounds.
Ford is also experimenting with using recycled denim from blue jeans and recycled soda bottles in other materials applications in the Fusion.
Here's this year's auto show schedule if you want to stop by and take a look at the Fusion, or any of the other hybrids and electric vehicle options you'll find on display. At the International show in Detroit January 14-27, an "Electric Avenue" will showcase electric vehicles and innovations, both from traditional automakers as well as entrepreneurs.
NOTE: Some Ford Fusions are being recalled due to the 1.6 litre "eco boost" engines overheating. Before you buy a new 2013 Fusion, ask the car dealer if the vehicle you want needs a repair – though chances are, if it hasn't left the lot yet, it is being sent back to the factory to get this problem taken care of.