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Ford Prodigy: The 80 MPG Diesel Hybrid Car Built in The 1990s


So it’s possible to build an 80 mpg (2.3 L/100km) car, with all the accessories it needs, and still claim it can’t be done. This pisses me off. The Ford Prodigy concept, unveiled in 2000 at the NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) in Detroit, featured such savings and, above all these, it was a hybrid!

It was the first fully-functional hybrid electric family sedan and it was given to the U.S. Department of Energy, to whom they demonstrated that it could be done. It had a 1.2 L diesel engine and a very light aluminum frame, along with an aluminum engine (aka DIATA – Direct Injection, Aluminum Through Bolt Assembly). The engine was 35 percent more efficient than classic gasoline engines. All the power it had was only 74 hp at 4,100 rpm, but it had aerodynamics and low consumption.

Also, the side-view mirrors have been “wiped out”, being replaced by two tiny cameras linked to two screens inside the cockpit. Even the front grille functioned only when needed, opening and closing to allow air in and out, still for the sake of an aerodynamic shape.

An exterior model of the car is being offered for sale in an auction starting $40,000. So they can… then, what did Ford do during these 10 years? Not even today’s commercial hybrids can match this one’s consumption, not to mention that I haven’t yet heard of many diesel hybrids. Why? Do they have some sort of contract with oil companies, with a minimum consumption mentioned for their cars?

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  1. If you care about America, and the breathable air for you kids, g-kids and g-g-kids, BUILD THE CARS now I will buy one! I am now driving a 53 mpg Prius C. Guys, man up and do the right thing – they are not just chick cars!

  2. This is not unique.
    In or around 1990, GM also made a hybrid prototype, five seater with in wheeel electric motors that got 80mpg.
    Capstone motors converted a Ford SUV in England using a micro turbine, again getting 80mpg.
    The Israeli company, ETV motors, replaced the ICE in a PRIUS with a Capstone micro Turbine, upgraded batteries and software mangement to get over 100mpg.
    The technology is not the problem. It is the cost.
    Since the PRIUS project began in 1993, it took Toyota about 15 years of dogged perseverance and big losses to become successful. Honda did the same and lost .


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