The Ford Airstream is truly one-of-a-kind. Few vehicles elicit a mixed reaction of disbelief, fascination and a comedic giggle during auto shows but the Ford Airstream concept car might have successfully done just that. Conjuring up images of wacky road trips, the Ford Airstream looks like the birth child of a marriage between family vans, space capsules, Airstream trailers, and a Pimp My Ride episode.
Launched at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the Ford Airstream is the product of a collaboration between Ford Motors and Airstream that came about while the former was busy designing a concept vehicle centered around the idea of the American Journey. With Airstream holding a strong presence in American road travel, the two coming together was an ideal match.
Can this be the future of road travel? Ford certainly designed this with a focus on what crossover vehicles might look like in the future. The Ford Airstream looks fun and comfortable, the technology is top-notch and, with partial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, it might prove a great solution to our current fuel woes.
Most notable among the vehicle’s impressive package is the Hyseries Drive. The Hyseries Drive is the Ford Airstream’s battery-run powertrain with its own onboard plug-in charger and a hydrogen fuel-cell. The cell, provided by Ford partner Ballard, automatically turns on when the battery charge dips to below 40-percent. It is less than half the size, lasts almost twice as long, and built much simpler than existing conventional fuel cell systems.
The fuel cell serves to give juice to the battery and nothing more, a departure from previous fuel cell-powered vehicles, which used it to drive the wheels, allowing the Airstream fuel cell to be smaller and less prone to fluctuations. The Ford Airstream is designed to run using the battery’s energy the whole time and boasts an equivalent fuel economy of 41 mpg.
The exterior design borrowed heavily on Airtsream trailer. The doors are large and asymmetrical, allowing for unobstructed loading of large cargo. The passenger-side clamshell door is huge, allowing an opening that runs two-thirds the entire length of the van. How to open the doors while parked between two vehicles on either side will be another story though, perhaps to be attended to if this concept ever sees production.