The new electric Ford Explorer will be available in late 2024. (Source: Ford)
The new electric Ford Explorer will be available in late 2024. (Source: Ford).

New Electric Ford Explorer Features Optional CO2 Heat Pump

Ford’s new SUV uses Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix platform and will be available in Europe from summer 2024.

American automaker Ford is releasing an electric version of its Explorer SUV in Europe this summer that will feature a CO2 (R744) heat pump as an optional extra.

While the automaker has not announced that the new electric Explorer can be had with a CO2 heat pump, it can be found on the car’s online configuration software.

“The heat pump uses compression of CO2 refrigerant to heat the vehicle cabin in an energy-efficient manner, which means less power is required from the battery,” Ford explains on the German version of the car’s configurator. “This helps to maximize the range even in cooler temperatures when the vehicle cannot be pre-air-conditioned.”

The optional CO2 heat pump is priced at €1,050 ($1,135) in Europe and at £1,050 (€1,234/$1,334) in the United Kingdom. The electric Ford Explorer is available with either a 77kWh or 79kWh battery, with a 52kWh version set for release in late 2024. Ford says its new electric vehicle (EV) has a max driving range of 602km (374mi).

Information on the electric Explorer’s standard air-conditioning and heating system is not currently available, Ford’s U.K. sales team told NaturalRefrigerants.com.

“The heat pump uses compression of CO2 refrigerant to heat the vehicle cabin in an energy-efficient manner, which means less power is required from the battery. This helps to maximize the range even in cooler temperatures when the vehicle cannot be pre-air-conditioned.”

Ford

Collaboration with Volkswagen

Ford’s new electric SUV is the result of its collaboration with Volkswagen, with the automakers announcing a joint EV project in June 2020. The electric Explorer uses Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform, which underpins several of the German automaker’s EVs, including the ID.4, the ID.5 SUV coupe and the Audi Q4 e-tron. Under the agreement, Ford could produce 600,000 EVs using Volkswagen’s MEB platform.

In February 2024, Volkswagen submitted a public comment to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) regarding the European PFAS Restriction Proposal, in which it announced a plan to convert all its EV air-conditioning heat pumps to CO2 by 2030.

According to a recent white paper from consulting firm Ducker Carlisle, a growing number of automakers are looking into CO2 heat pumps following Volkswagen’s announcement. However, it is unclear whether other other OEMs will follow suit and commit to CO2, continue with the widely-used HFO-1234yf or opt for other solutions like propane (R290).

Ford currently offers two other EVs, the F-150 Lightning pickup truck and the Mustang Mach-E SUV. The 2024 F-150 Lightning comes standard with a heat pump that uses HFO-1234yf refrigerant, with the Mustang Mach-E equipped with a traditionally designed automotive air-conditioning and heating system that also uses HFO-1234yf refrigerant.

As noted by researcher Nina Piesch, CO2 heat pumps boast a higher efficiency in electric vehicles because of their increased suction vapor density, which is a significant advantage in colder climates.

Showcasing innovation

In recognition of the rapidly changing landscape in the mobile air-conditioning (MAC) sector, ATMOsphere, publisher of NaturalRefrigerants.com, will host its first MAC and heat pump summit, ATMO MAC Summit 2024 × TU Berlin, in Berlin September 12–13.

The two-day event, which is organized in partnership with Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)’s Department of Heat Transfer and Conversion, will feature presentations and case studies on natural refrigerant-based AC and heat pump technologies for mobile applications, with a focus on CO2 and propane.

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