As more electric and hybrid vehicles enter the market, there is a growing concern from consumers about the reliability of the batteries that power them. Ford has unveiled a new lab test, the Key Life Test, which allows the automaker to simulate the equivalent of 10 years and 150,000 miles of wear and tear on hybrid vehicle batteries in about 10 months.
Ford developed the new test specifically for its new lithium-ion batteries that power models like the 2013 Ford C-MAX and Ford Fusion hybrid. The test allows engineers to simulate in a lab setting many factors, including location of a battery within a vehicle, the temperatures they might have to endure, and various kinds of acceleration and stopping that different drivers would apply.
Battery reliability ranks as the single most important purchase consideration by potential hybrid customers. The Key Life Test aims at delivering higher-quality and even more reliable batteries, said Kevin Layden, director of Ford Electrification Programs.
“Recent studies show consumers are keeping their vehicles longer, and regulations in some regions now require batteries to carry warranties for greater distances,” said Layden. “Fortunately, our tests take into account distances and conditions that go way beyond those normal requirements.”
Ford is investing $135 million in the design, engineering and production of key components – including doubling its battery testing capabilities – for the five electrified vehicles the automaker will have in its portfolio by the end of the year: Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Focus Electric.