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Ford reveals 'Whisper Strategy' for hybrid vehicles

Ford has reanalyzed its vehicle lineup to make them less noisy.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Fords are not synonymous with hybrid vehicles in the U.S. However, in Europe, where emission standards are stricter, the company is deploying more electrified vehicles, more rapidly.

Along with a focus on engine efficiency is engine noise. Because the size of the traditional internal combustion engine has shrunk with the innovation and addition of electric motors and batteries in vehicles, there is less engine noise permeating the boundaries between the passenger and the power plant.

2020 Ford KugaMore insulation in the cabin means less road noise is passed on to passengers.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Many hybrid vehicles operate with a four-cylinder engine under the hood. They are typically paired with a transmission. Some cars, like the Honda Insight, have no transmission and instead operate on a two-motor system. That transmission typically comes in three varieties: continuously variable transmission (CVT), dual-clutch transmission (DCT), or -speed transmission.

In the past, CVTs were known for being noisy and operating with what has been called a "rubber band effect". Though they've evolved to get better over time, a large reason as to why they've become more tolerable is the evolution and addition of sound-deadening technology around the cabin of the car.

You won't find details of it in a dealer brochure, but automakers are increasingly adding insulation to vehicles, front to rear and at the sides, to keep noise at bay. Ford is one such automaker, deploying what it calls its "Whisper Strategy" - a series of small noise improvements that add up to a big difference.

For its new Kuga SUV, a small model built on the same platform as the Focus and sold outside the U.S., Ford examined minute details, such as door seals, to find ways to lessen the amount of noise permeating the cabin.

2020 Ford KugaThe car was designed with a drive mode that allows it to run on just electric power.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

From there, the engineering team added perforation to the SUV's Vignale leather seat bolsters, which lessened the number of flat surfaces in the cabin allowing materials to absorb noise rather than reflect it.

Sound shields were added to the underside of the body of the vehicle, limiting road and wind noise permeation, and increasing the car's aerodynamic design.

The manufacturer shrunk the Chanels behind the car's exterior panels that traditionally hold hidden wiring to limit the airflow through the vehicle's body.

It took engineers two years to test more than 70 different tires on smooth and rough surfaces, in wet and dry conditions, and at a range of speeds to find which set best kept road noise at bay while achieving goals for grip and comfort.

When behind the wheel of the new Kuga Plug-In Hybrid model, drivers can opt for EV Now drive mode, which switches off the petrol engine and allows the vehicle to run on all-electric power. Without engine noise, the only sound coming into the cabin is from the road and wind. In controlled tests, that noise amounted to 52 decibels, the equivalent of a gentle rainfall.

Just How Much Quieter is a Hybrid Than the Cars of Yesterday?www.youtube.com

That same model also employs active noise cancellation technology. According to Ford, "The system works just like popular noise-cancelling headphones – detecting unwanted low-frequency cabin sounds through strategically-placed microphones and counteracting them with an opposing sound wave from the B&O Sound System."

Ford isn't the only automaker employing these sound deadening techniques. Nissan has had "library-level" noise as a goal for quite some time and the peaceful cabin of the Rogue is frequently noted in journalist reviews. Rolls-Royce prides itself on extra thick, plush carpeting between occupants' feet and the floor of the car, which helps keep road noise away.

The Kuga isn't the only vehicle with these sound deadening features. The practices explored with it are common when a vehicle is redesigned. The biggest difference is that all-electric drive mode, which is only available in PHEVs and EVs.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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New electric SUV

The Genesis GV60 is on sale now

The GV60 is on sale in the U.S. now.

Genesis

Today, Genesis announced that its newest vehicle, the electric GV60, is on sale in the United States. The vehicle brings a load of new tech and innovations, and features the brand's distinctive, attractive styling.

The GV60 will be offered in two configurations in the United States. The GV60 Advanced AWD starts at $58,890 and features a facial unlocking system, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and touchscreen, and a Bang & Olufsen audio system. The GV60 Performance AWD starts at $67,890 and brings more power, leather upholstery, a massaging driver's seat, and more.

2023 Genesis GV60Buyers get three years of free charging. Genesis

The Advanced model comes with a 74-kW front and 160-kW rear electric motor for a total of 314 horsepower. A 77.4-kWh battery provides juice for the operation, and returns a range of 248 miles. The Performance AWD model features a 160-kW front and 160-kW rear motor for a combined 429 horsepower, with up to 483 ponies available with a temporary boost mode.

Genesis partnered with Electrify America to provide GV60 owners with three years of free 30-minute charging sessions. Owners can charge anywhere in the United States, and can locate charging stations using their vehicle's navigation system. The GV60 is also the first Genesis to feature Connected Care, which includes several connected services such as enhanced roadside assistance, an SOS emergency notification feature, vehicle health reports, and more.

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