Despite Focus Electric, Ford Still Doesn’t Believe In Pure EVs. 25-50K Tops By 2020

5 years ago by Jay Cole 7

Ford's Version Of The Future Of Battery Electric Vehicles?

Unlike General Motors and Nissan, Ford has always played their cards close to the vest when it comes to plug-in electric vehicles, opting to take a “wait and see” attitude rather than building in anticipation of a market.   Until now.

A Lonely 2012 Ford Focus Electric

In a recent interview, John Viera, who is Ford’s “global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters” (imagine the size of his desk nameplate), finally put all of Ford’s chips on the table with projections about the future of the hybrid, plug-in, and pure electric vehicles at the company. As well as Ford’s immediate plans to move past the Focus Electric.  As in, they have none.

“Over time, we’ll have more electrified vehicles. That’s a given, to meet fuel economy and carbon reduction requirements.”

Mr. Viera goes on to explain the dynamics behind building pure electric vehicles, and their own Focus Electric:

“The biggest issue is affordability. Our approach has been to put our electrified vehicles not on unique platforms – like our competitors – but on a common platform to take advantage of economies of scale on the majority of vehicle parts. We can really drive down costs associated with those parts. In terms of build-to- order cars – if our competitors have a unique electric vehicle, they guess its demand and size its production upon that guess. If they get it wrong, people get laid off, plants get shut down. Since we’ve put the battery electric Focus on the same platform as the gasoline Focus, we build those vehicles down the same assembly line. If orders shoot up for the battery electric Focus, no problem, we build more. If not, we build more gasoline Focus.”

The Ford director details how the company expects the market to shake out over the next decade:

“We’re projecting that about 10-25 percent of our fleet will be electrified by 2020. Of those, 75 percent of vehicles will be traditional hybrids, 20-25 percent plug-in hybrids and 5-10 percent, battery electrics.”

Ford C-Max Energi

How does that specifically breakdown for the year 2012?  Well, based on Ford selling 2,148,806 in 2011, sales would look something like this:

  • Traditional Hybrids: 161,160 – 402,901
  • Plug-In Hybrids: 42,976 – 134,300
  • Pure Electric Cars: 26,860 – 52,720

Now, we can understand the low estimate on the pure electrics, given Ford’s pessimistic position on the segment, but considering the fact the Detroit auto maker is debuting two new plug-in hybrids over the next six months, the Fusion Energi and the C-Max Energi, one would expect Ford’s internal estimates to be significantly higher on how large their plug-in business would be at the turn of the next decade.

Still, one thing is clear, the Focus Electric is not going to receive any pure electric stablemates anytime soon, and with the dreaded CARB ‘compliance‘ card being played here again from the company, it probably isn’t going to get a lot of support or marketing from HQ in the near future either, which is a shame because we really enjoyed our week long, extended test drive with the Focus Electric before it launched last month.

Thankfully, Ford also took some time to throw hydrogen under the proverbial bus as well, “While we’re working on hydrogen in our research labs, we don’t think hydrogen-powered vehicles are going to hit the market in the near-term like our electrified vehicles have.” 

Given the company’s gloomy outlook on EVs, we expect Ford’s internet forecast for future hydrogen sales to be strictly limited to a fellow named Chet who lives in Schenectady, and may or may not be a real person…and that is okay-fine with us.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Quote via Bloomberg

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7 responses to "Despite Focus Electric, Ford Still Doesn’t Believe In Pure EVs. 25-50K Tops By 2020"

  1. Chris says:

    I’m afraid it’s a self fulfilling prophecy for Ford. People won’t buy the Focus EV because of their lackluster enthusiasm for it. That will lead to low sales, and ultimately them having a way to justify their lackluster enthusiasm for EV’s.

  2. Stuart22 says:

    I’d say Ford is being realistic rather than bombastic. They will likely let the other companies do the heavy lifting while hanging around on the fringes ready to pounce into the game when things are more certain. Those numbers are nothing more than guesses and are subject to change, if and when battery costs drop their plugin numbers will have to be revised upwards.

    1. backstroke says:

      Pounce? Car companies are like supertankers they take forever just to stop, let alone turn around. I hope Tesla, Nissan and all the other companies putting their money on the line blow away all the laggards. Actually I wouldn’t put Ford in that camp, they are a lot further along the conversion line than many.

      BTW when things are certain its generally too late.

  3. Wood Foss says:

    Very interesting statement and projections by Mr. Viera. I personally think it is spot on. I own the Ford Focus Electric and have come to appreciate the excellent quality Ford has put into it’s production. They may not have high expectations, but they did not simply build a CARB compliance vehicle. They built a strong contender.

    It is also my opinion Battery Electric Vehicles, as current technology allows, are only suitable to a small population. They are expensive and making them cost effective requires a certain parameter of user. Today’s BEV battery is heavy, expensive and short lived. Shall we say primitive? Look at it like early cell phones. The cost was high and the reception was horrible, no infastructure. The battery and computer were primitive. 30 years later the cell phone is a technological marvel and who doesn’t have one?

    The most important contribution electric vehicles will make is in the reduction of green house gasses. I believe, strongly, in this. It is a hard sell. The vehicle has to be competitively priced for many people to make this jump. Given time I believe they will.

    The good news is my auto is not a lease, they cannot take it back. They will build them and people will buy them. One at a time…..

  4. TAP says:

    I think it is silly to say that Ford “doesn’t believe in pure EV’s”. The truth is, CONSUMERS don’t believe in pure EVs yet.

    How is the Leaf selling? The Mitsubishi i?

    Look at the business wreckage in the EV business. No one is making money, and some companies (Fisker) are on the brink of disaster. Tesla is a huge gamble.

    1. Rick says:

      Yes, I think thats right but still saying the same thing. Not believing in pure Evs is the same as not believing that people want them

      Ford does not believe the market will be there so they are not building for it but they are also saying they dont believe the market will be there in 10 years as well.

      Im thinking that 25,000 in 2020 is a narrow minded view for 2020, Nissan has built 35,000 leafs over the first year and a half & Ford sees the need for 25,000 eight years from now, with all the advancements on the way?

  5. Shawn Marshall says:

    Some people think it’s all about the battery.
    How many could they sell at 25k with a 200 mile range?
    Time will tell – the market will decide.

    Reduce green house gases??? Are we 100% nuclear, wind & solar? Is there any scientific proof of any kind that trace amounts of carbon dioxide scattered in the atmosphere causes global warming?? What volume of carbon based gases are generated by volcanic activity, forest fires and normal organic decomposition and bovine flatulence?
    Carbon dioxide is tree food.