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Future Explorers to Feature Fuel-Efficient Electrical Assist

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
    DETROIT, Jan. 9 Ford Motor Company's
next-generation Explorer will achieve break-through levels of fuel economy and
offer more high-tech comfort and convenience features by utilizing a new high
voltage electrical system and a technology that automatically shuts the engine
off when the vehicle is stopped.
    Known in the industry as an integrated starter-generator or ISG, this
start-stop engine technology will debut in the Ford Explorer soon after the
Escape hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) in 2003.  But unlike the Escape HEV -- a
full hybrid that uses an electric motor for propulsion and a 4-cylinder
gasoline engine -- the ISG 42-volt Explorer will rely on an efficient
6-cylinder gasoline engine with electric assist.  The integrated starter-
generator, as its name implies, replaces both the conventional starter and
alternator and integrates starting and generating in a single electric
    The integrated starter-generator will allow the engine to automatically
shut off when the Explorer is stopped, such as at a traffic signal, and then
immediately start again when the need for power is anticipated.
    Coupled with this ISG system on the Explorer will be a regenerative
braking system and a more powerful electrical system that delivers 42 volts
rather than the current 12 volts.  The regenerative braking system captures
energy generated from the braking system to help recharge the vehicle's
42-volt battery, which in turn provides the engine with a slight acceleration
boost at startup.  A smaller 12-volt battery, roughly the size of a motorcycle
battery, will be used to operate standby items such as emergency flashers and
    The 42-volt electrical system allows the company to more quickly satisfy
customer demands for improved comfort and convenience items, including the
ability to offer a 110-volt AC outlet that would allow customers to operate
power tools from their vehicles.  This high-voltage, high-powered electrical
system also paves the way for advanced technology items such as energy-
efficient electromechanical valvetrain actuation, electric superchargers and
advanced active suspension systems.  With electronically actuated valves,
valve timing could be easily varied because it would be under computer
control.  The end result would be more horsepower from a smaller displacement
engine that runs considerably cleaner.