Ford - Synergy 2010
In 1993 the Clinton Administration announced a new organization known as PNGV, which stood for Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. Their goals were to greatly improve the fuel efficiency, recyclability and levels of emissions while maintaining comparable performance, utility, safety and cost of ownership of vehicles. The partners included USCAR (the U.S. Council for Automotive Research which included Ford, GM and Chrysler), several federal agencies, U.S. DOE national laboratories, universities and suppliers.
The Ford Synergy 2010 concept was very much conceived with the aims of the PNGV in mind and was Ford's forward-looking vision of a family car for the year 2010. It made its debut at the 1996 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Designers of the Synergy 2010 concept announced that this concept had been designed to achieve 80 miles per gallon fuel efficiency at one-third the weight of conventional cars. The concept announced that power would be supplied by a hybrid system that was a 1.0 liter direct-injection petrol engine which fed an electric motor. Naturally to achieve these fuel efficiencies, the concept had to save weight and the design envisaged coming in at under one ton thanks to its construction using lightweight materials. Aerodynamic styling was again highly advanced and in addition the concept introduced state of the art voice recognition controls which were connected to heads-up computer screens.
The exterior of the Ford Synergy 2010 concept grabs onlookers' attention in every aspect. Dramatic blade-shaped front fenders take off from a dual level nose instantly recognizable as derived from a race car's splitter and front wing. The fenders terminate abruptly at the front doors' leading edges leaving a vertical gap between their trailing edge and the body. The window sills are sharply stepped. The rear doors flow into fully skirted nearly vertical rear fenders with rocker panels that curve sharply upward. Rear fenders are sharply peaked and the upward sloping floor panel behind the rear axle line has longitudinal ridges - a race car rear diffuser's shape that complements the nose splitter and wing.
The Ford Synergy 2010 concept's front doors are conventionally hinged while the rear doors are hinged at the back. There is no center post, so occupants' access is unobstructed. Given that one of the Ford Synergy 2010 concept's primary purposes was to highlight the voice recognition-influenced interior, it is likely that it was more important for show goers to have an unobstructed view than that potential occupants would be able to alight gracefully.
Since voice recognition technology is the basis for most of the concept's functions, its interior is almost completely free from the knobs, buttons, sliders, dials and switches that bedevil interior designers and frequent car renters who are constantly challenged by differing control layouts. Only an array of three color display screens in the center of the dashboard, a yoke-style steering wheel and a heads-up display screen atop the steering column disclose that there might possibly be something going on. The interior is poshly upholstered in grey cloth with subtle magenta accents. Both front and rear seats are bench style with thin adjustable seat backs and fold down armrests.
The Ford Synergy 2010 concept rides on giant 19" wheels with flat aerodynamic plastic wheel covers. Tires are skinny E195/55R-19s to present minimal frontal area to reduce drag. A full interior, platform-based fiberglass concept, the Ford Synergy 2010 is in excellent show-ready condition with good cosmetics and working doors. While not fully operational, as envisaged in the year 2010, the concept does have a highly realistic simulation of the technology for the future. Running off a CD-ROM program, a number of voice commands are instantly recognized and the computer screen will display such functions as radio/CD player/the weather forecast/temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. In its early show days the Ford Synergy 2010 was also able to display the rear view transmitted through "pencil light" cameras hidden in the front fender, but these have since been removed. To maneuver this concept a cord box is used to electronically turn the front wheel. The titanium frost pearl paint is unblemished.
Not only was the Ford Synergy 2010 concept a tremendous hit on the show circuit, but in addition it was brought to a number of PNGV events to demonstrate the way forward in the future. It attracted tremendous crowds when shown at the American Museum of Science and Energy.
In this case, "Synergy" is an accurately applied name to describe the hybrid electric powertrain that one day may power our vehicles of the future. It also embodies the stunning visual effect of the radically designed, yet highly elegant aerodynamically designed coachwork of the Ford Synergy 2010 concept.
Engine & performance:
Position: four electric wheel motors + mounted aft of rear seat
Type: electric + internal combustion 4-cylinder engine