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I received the following email from Mary Ann Wright, Director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs, at Ford. She is plenty mad at me for the previous post questioning Ford’s innovation in hybrid technology. Here is her email in full.
Bruce - I read your article and feel compelled to respond with some facts.
Ford Motor Company was THE FIRST auto manufacturer in the world to put a full hybrid SUV on the road.
The Ford Escape Hybrid (and now the Mercury Mariner Hybrid) was engineered, validated and is manufactured in the United States. There is NO Toyota technology or parts in our vehicle. We received NO technical support from Toyota when designing our hybrid system.
We entered into a business arrangement with Toyota where we EXCHANGED patent licences. We licensed 21 patents from Toyota because our hybrid system design was close enough in design to what Toyota did that we wanted to ensure there were no accusations of infringement. At the same time, Toyota licensed several patents from Ford for emissions technology. This was a financial transaction — one which goes on in our industry every day.
We are now working on our second and third generation of Hybrid technology — which will be on the streets in less than 3 years. We will have 250k hybrids by 2010 CY — we are committed to this technology and it’s proliferation.
I head up a team of incredibly bright and talented engineers and scientists who put their hearts and souls into designing a world class vehicle — one which our customers love. It is still the ONLY Hybrid SUV on the market that is certified to meet the most stringent emissions standards — Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV). The Escape Hybrid delivers 75% better fuel economy in city driving than the it’s sister gas version.
I am very passionate about this and hope that you will do my Team and your readers a service by correcting the record. Thank you.
I honestly don’t know how to interpret the sentence—“We licensed 21 patents from Toyota because our hybrid system design was close enough in design to what Toyota did that we wanted to ensure there were no accusations of infringement.” I could use some help here folks. Let’s have a conservation about whether Ford did or did not use Toyota hybrid technology.
One thing is clear however. Mary Ann Wright, is clearly the kind of passionate team leader that all companies need to have.
Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.