Ford CEO Says Automaker is “Really Commited” to Electrified Vehicles, But Mostly Only Focused on Hybrids

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 20

Ford Focus Electric Won't Ever be a Major Player, but Neither Will Other Pure Electric Vehicles, According to Ford.

Ford Focus Electric Won’t Ever be a Major Player, but Neither Will Other Pure Electric Vehicles, According to Ford.

In 2012, Ford sold only 685 copies of its Focus Electric.  Through the first 5 months of 2013, Focus Electric sales continued to creep along, racking up a YTD total of just 723 units.

Let's Focus on Hybrids

Let’s Focus on Hybrids

That’s okay with Ford though, as the automaker admits its electrification focus lies with hybrids.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally recently hit the stage to speak at the automaker’s Further with Ford conference.  What Mulally said was that Ford is “really committed” to electrified vehicles, but not the ones that operate solely on electricity.

Mulally didn’t actually say that, but that’s the basic point he was trying to make.

According to Mulally, pure electric vehicle have a ways to go before Ford puts any real effort into one.

At the moment, Ford’s focus is on hybrids, with a dash of plug-in hybrids added to the mix.

Mulally seems concerned with both the cost and weight of batteries and it seems Ford is willing to wait until some significant advancements are made in battery tech before it dives deep into pure electric vehicles.

Is the Focus Electric a once and done for Ford in the pure electric vehicle segment?

It seems it could be that way for now as Ford will instead focus on its hybrids, two of which do plug in.

Source: Slashgear

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20 responses to "Ford CEO Says Automaker is “Really Commited” to Electrified Vehicles, But Mostly Only Focused on Hybrids"

  1. kdawg says:

    Choose your battles wisely Ford, or you may get left in the dust. In regards to EV’s, it appears they prefer to be followers vs. leaders. So when they say “Go Further with Ford”, they mean, go almost as far as someone else has already gone before.

    1. kdawg says:

      (Note: we are doing a lot of work for the Ford S550 program. I was hoping to see something regarding an electric Mustang. Could you imagine a Tesla-like Mustang for $40K, that could smoke most everything off the line? I didn’t see anything though. Missed opportunity 🙁 )

  2. Anon says:

    Typo: “concerned with the both cost and weight of”… Should it not be, “concerned with both the cost and weight of”?

  3. Bonaire says:

    I guess they can just put out cars with 47/47/47 on their window sticker and call it a success. Even if drivers don’t reach those numbers.

    Ford could do best if they can increase mileage of their popular trucks by 10-15%. Taking a truck from 15 to 18mpg would be a huge change in gasoline/diesel usage nationally. Even more of an impact than selling tens of thousands of EVs to commuters.

  4. evnow says:

    So, if FFE a compliance car or not ?

    1. Aaron says:

      Since it’s available outside of the CARB states, I would say “no”. It is, however, a half-baked EV in its battery packaging and driveability (search for “FFE stop safely now” and gasp at how many people completely lose power while driving).

      1. Anon says:

        Agreed.

      2. Vin says:

        Half-baked packaging and driveability? Wait, is that a MiEV in your thumbnail, an ICE-based chassis with inferior 62mi range and anemic acceleration, taking seconds longer than the Focus Electric or Leaf to reach 60mph? I don’t get it.

        7000 miles on my Focus Electric, no issues. Plenty of range for my 38-mile commute to work, lots of room for four people and their briefcases/backpacks, and to quote Ford, “It’s a hoot to drive!”. Its instantaneous spunk and solid handling make onramps a favorite part of my commute.

  5. bloggin says:

    WOW……There are quite a bit of assumptions going on in this article. It seems the only quote from Mulally is that Ford was ‘really committed’ to electrified vehicles.

    Using the word ‘seems’ does not justify so many false claims about what Ford or Mulally is thinking or what Ford will do.

    It really would have been better to wait and get actual quotes from Mulally about Fords electrification plan, so the article has more merit.

    “At the moment, Ford’s focus is on hybrids, with a dash of plug-in hybrids added to the mix.”

    Actually there is a C-MAX Hybrid and plug-in Energi, Fusion Hybrid and plug-in Energi, and the MKZ Hybrid with an expected plug in Energi version coming. So there is no ‘dash’ of plug-in’s added, Ford offers an equal match of plug-ins to their Hybrids.

    Combining the hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full EV vehicles, Ford is #2 in electrified vehicle sales, behind Toyota. It’s all about offering the product mix the consumer is asking for, not what a company want’s the consumer to have. Not everyone want’s a full EV.

  6. Wood Foss says:

    This may be disappointing to 100% electric owners, however I believe Ford has been very wise about its investment. Nissan must be losing a ton of money on that plant in the south turning out less then 10% of its capacity. Ford uses its own ICE production line and builds a side track in the line to modify the ICE into and EV. How smart was that!

    Hands down the everyday all Electric Vehicle is not for everyone. If you are not commuting 80+ miles round trip per day, the FEV is a waste of money, buy a regular ICE Focus. I cannot afford a Tesla. I would not buy a Nissan without thermal management of the battery, and the rest of the brands don’t have enough range and/or look like little puppies driving down the road.

    Ford is correct, battery improvement needs to arrive before the all electric will become mainstream. In the meantime consumers are testing the waters with hybrids. I see lots of them on the highway. Let’s just hope the consumer is not discouraged with a hybrid that doesn’t really give them dramatically improved mpg like my Ford Focus Electric that never needs gas. And, with 20K miles on my car after 13 months of driving, no perceptible drop in range, I am a sold EV man. Just get that Tesla under 40K soon.

    1. Bonaire says:

      How much improvement. That is the question. 10%? 30%? 900%

      Improvement in size, capacity, energy or power density? All of the above? What if there would be a battery with slightly larger size and weight but could do 10,000 refills?

      It’s all vague when someone says “waiting for battery improvement”. Design the cars with today’s batteries and make the battery pack upgradable. Then, when batteries improve, you already have the shell and just change out the stinkin’ pack and increase production numbers. 🙂 Let’s say the battery “improves” 50%. For a Volt, take out the 16kWh pack and put in the 24kWh pack of the same size. No other changes needed.

      Waiting for battery improvement – either means they have skunkworks already going or they are not doing anything yet. At least GM put the Volt on the table for a few years and let people watch as it went through development.

    2. evnow says:

      ” Nissan must be losing a ton of money on that plant in the south turning out less then 10% of its capacity.”

      “that plant” is used to make everything from Altima to Leaf.

  7. David Murray says:

    I suspect Ford’s approach with the Energi vehicles is less risky and most likely each Energi product is actually profitable for them. I do think it is pathetic, though, if you consider the amount of government money they got compared to the other manufacturers and couldn’t come up with something better. I have nothing against the energi products, but I consider them entry-level products for the plug-in world. Its like getting your feet wet with an electric car. GM and Nissan jumped right in the water without looking back. Which approach will be more successful is unknown for the moment.

    I do hope, however, that Ford is planning something better for the next generation of energi products. Specifically, i hope they find a better place to put the battery pack so the trunk space is available. Or at minimum, uses half the trunk space it currently uses.

    My only other gripe, and possibly the main reason I’d never consider an energi product is the speedometer. Analog speedometers are yesterday’s technology. Give me a digital speedometer!

  8. Anon says:

    After the negative press regarding how the company crushed nearly every EV-1, GM had to slowly regain consumer’s trust for the Volt, as a long term purchase. They have worked hard to regrow that trust that was crushed, a decade ago. We’ll see how they handle the Spark EV.

    Ford, didn’t have much of any EV history to deal with (Henry’s wife owned one, that was about it), so they quickly made a Leaf-Clone out of an existing ICE vehicle. It’s a more handsome design; one that does not scream “eco-punishment” to its owner 24/7. The 6.6 KW charger was a nice surprise, and forced Nissan to provide similar for the updated Leaf. It’s amazing what a little competition does for products in the marketplace. 🙂

    But with no L3 quick charge support (and no future date set for adding it), and no useable cargo area (that divider thing shoved in the back, made out of hard foam board– is retarded), plus a publicly expressed lack of interest in refreshing / redesigning it for 2014+, seems to indicate a vehicle with a rather short corporate attention span.

    Still wondering if current Ford BEV owners with computer problems, have had any luck getting that crashing issue resolved???

  9. Grady says:

    I leased one of the first 100 or so Focus EVs that were sold. I really love it and I’m only going to buy electric cars from now on. I also really like Ford; but that’s just personal taste. I grew up with Ford and they seem to be growing up with me. On some level I wish that Ford was pouring a little more resources into the Focus EV and taking a bigger risk by extending a pure EV to the Energi platform.

    At the same time, a 75 mile range is somewhat heartbreaking. The 5% of the time I need to go a little further makes it clear that EV ownership isn’t going to be appealing to the mass-market just yet. You have to think ahead and plan a little bit to own an EV. While it seems silly, mass-market is not for the true-believers. A more practical car, like the Volt or a C-Max Energi fits the lifestyle of the current consumer much better.

    Ford cannot do what Tesla does and offer a $60k-$75k Focus or Mustang with 150 to 250 miles of range. They are a budget car company with mass-market appeal. They’d need to do that with their Lincoln brand, but american luxury cars have never had an eco-friendly customer base.

    By design, Ford doesn’t need to post Leaf-like numbers to keep the Focus or their other plug-ins around. Ford’s plug-in sales numbers have matched their statements of commitment all the way through — they plan to make them available but not push them too hard with advertising.

    It seems strange to malign Ford when they have 3 different cars on the monthly sales scorecard (nearly a quarter of the cars this site tracks are made by Ford), and their combined sales are nothing to laugh at either: over 1,000 plug-in cars a month. And it’s been steadily climbing month by month — without massive advertising.

    And I personally think their approach is really terrific — they build them as people ask for them, in the same factory as the regular Focus. That takes off a ton of pressure for them to make enough sales to justify the expense of a dedicated factory. And, it allows them to make a pure EV offering for those few dedicated EV consumers like myself that are willing to make some sacrifices to drive the car of the future, today.

    Ford is in an excellent position to push a mass-market pure EV when the technology is ready for such a car — I seriously doubt that they’re being left behind. But right now the batteries are too expensive and too bulky. There’s no disputing that fact. A $40k focus is a ludicrous proposition considering it’s intended to be someone’s secondary car (I bought one because I’m lucky enough to be able to afford one).

    The Focus EV and the Leaf are great cars, but the range needs to get to 150+ miles before you can honestly say to a non-believer that they’d be stupid if they didn’t buy an EV.

    1. bloggin says:

      Another component to Fords plan is production constraints. The Michigan Assembly Plant where the Focus, Focus Electric, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi are built is now running at over 114% capacity, with three shifts. Focus, Focus Electric and C-MAX daily inventories are consistently low due to high demand that Ford really can’t meet right now.

      Which means that any major marketing to push any of those vehicles more than what is happening currently would be of no benefit. Ford just can’t produce it.

      Ford is looking to resolve this by 2016 with moving Fiesta production from the no tarrif Mexico plant to Thailand with tarrif(then importing them back to the states), a region where the vast majority of Fiesta sales are. Then use the Mexico plant for production overflow for the next gen larger/lighter Focus or next gen Focus Electric with more range and better battery storage, or next gen lighter more capable C-MAX Hybrid and Energi, or the smaller A-MAX Hybrid(Prius c target) that’s been seen testing.

      Very much how Ford is using Flat Rock after Mazda left, to handle additional demand for the Fusion(starting Sept) that the Mexico plant can’t. Production constraints is the only thing holding back sales of the Fusion.

      So right now, it won’t help to market the Focus Electric any more than they are, since there is really no capacity to build more at this time.

      1. David Murray says:

        Thanks, I was unaware of much of this. Do you think Ford is planning something to eventually replace the Energi products they have now? Something designed a little bit more from the ground up with a battery pack in mind, say underneath the car for example?

        1. bloggin says:

          I think the current retrofit process was for first gen hybrid and energy models to enable Ford to quickly offer more hybrid/Energi and a full EV model, without the expense of building 5 totally new vehicles from scratch.

          But the next gen Focus due 2017 should be the first to better integrate the battery into the underbody, but still using ICE models as the base. The Fiesta EV Concept gave a clear indication of what Ford’s plans are by showing how the battery can fit completely under the vehicle.

          A new Fiesta is due for 2016 when it moves to Thailand. Ford could also build a Fiesta Electric that would be at a lower price point below the Leaf and the Focus Electric. An Fiesta Electric would better compete on price with the sub-compact Honda Fit EV, city cars Spark EV and Polo EV that’s coming. Ford could easily do both as they offer Energi models of C-MAX and Fusion.

          Based on a most recent Ford presentation that included future production dates, we should see a new C-MAX about the same time 2017, with 2018 offering the new Fusion, and a new MKZ for 2017.

          Also, Ford and Tesla have been talking up each company quite a bit, with Tesla talking about learning better aluminum production processes from Ford, that are better than Audi. Along with Tesla wanting to know how to build a pick-up truck. Who better to learn from than Ford. With both Ford and Tesla getting their batteries from Panasonic, I think there is something brewing where Tesla will share battery technology or battery packs to Ford, while Ford offers aluminum production and truck know-how to Tesla.

          I also suspect the new 2016 Lincoln MKS may come as an EV using the Tesla battery 300 EV mile battery pack. Tesla has already shared their smaller pack with the Toyota RAV4 EV.

          Just as Ford is sharing knowledge of their 1L 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine with Mercedes Benz, in return for knowledge about the MB Euro6 stratified lean-burn gasoline engines.

          Just looking at the sales of the Focus Electric, it’s up 157% from June 2012.

          Since the transition to battery technology is a slow one, I see Ford taking the smart path by offering a wide platform of various hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs, building them based on demand, instead of putting all their electrification dollars in one basket, ,and trying to force consumers all into one EV.

  10. Mark H says:

    To give Ford its due they are still the #4 US EV manufacturer behind Tesla, GM, and Nissan and I don’t see them conceding that position to Toyota, Fiat, Honda, Mitsubishi, or Smart. Just because they are spreading sales out over three vehicles it does not show up as well, but they are in solid 4th place now closing in on 1000 units per month. 5th place Toyota is around 700 and all others are scraping to get 200. Of course when Fiat sells 200, there will be raves yada yada yada but 200 is a far cry from 1000. I don’t disagree that they are not giving the same attention as Tesla, GM, or Nissan but lets not throw them under the bus just yet. Also worth mentioning that Mitsubishi is doing better on a global scale. Honestly, I haven’t seen and EV that I didn’t like better than an ICE.

  11. Jim says:

    Grady wrote, “The 5% of the time I need to go a little further makes it clear that EV ownership isn’t going to be appealing to the mass-market just yet.”

    Yes, but an EV does appeal to those who can have 2 cars: an EV for most driving, + an ICE or hybrid one for the occasional long trip.
    (My wife and I each prefer our Focus EV to our nice little Civic. If both need to drive separately at the same time, whoever is going the farthest usually gets the EV. The cost of energy per mile is so much less compared even to an ICE with a good mpg record, the EV pollutes less, has better pickup, and is fun to drive. For those rare long trips, we usually go together.)
    Of course, renting or borrowing an alternative car could work for those long trips too.

    bloggin wrote, “With both Ford and Tesla getting their batteries from Panasonic […].”
    I read earlier that LG Chem makes batteries for the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Electric.
    Which is true?