Ford Investing Billions In Electrified Vehicle Push

2 years ago by Steven Loveday 3

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

...It's The Refreshed Fusion

…It’s The Refreshed Fusion

Ford has never been considered a leader in electric cars like Tesla, Nissan or General Motors (or others).

But now Ford is investing $4.5 billion into electrified vehicles and is hoping to come out ahead.

This comes at time when the company’s stock is at a three-year low. This is due in part to rising labor costs, battery costs and low profit margins. Kevin Layden, Ford’s electric car director explains, “battery costs are not coming down enough to democratize it.”

CEO Mark Fields hopes to add 13 new electrified models by 2020. The lines will consist of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric options. This would boost Ford’s model lines from 13% to 40% as electric options.

In order to make this happen, Ford is increasing battery research at their Energy Institute on the campus of University of Michigan. Here Ford can experiment with innovations in battery chemistry, with a goal for lighter, more powerful, longer range batteries. Assistant director of operations for the institute, Bruno Vanzieleghem says, “People are still looking for a breakthrough, but we are innovating with what we have now.” Advancements are slow and small, as companies look at using thinner electrodes or alternative chemicals. Greg Less, Senior Lab Manager offers the example of trying “promising” chemical substitutes like lithium-silicon instead of lithium-ion.

Other electric car companies are also putting money and research into batteries to cut costs and increase range. GM’s Bolt is currently pushing 200 miles per charge while Tesla’s Model S is even higher. In comparison, Ford’s Focus is less than 100 miles per charge.

Ford is also using data to assist with growing its presence in the electric car market. The cars collect data when plugged in. Cumulatively, Ford’s electric models, C-Max, Focus, and Fusion save about 1 million gallons of gas a day.

But is Ford’s push too little and too late?

Source: USA Today

Tags: , ,

3 responses to "Ford Investing Billions In Electrified Vehicle Push"

  1. wavelet says:

    Not very exciting when they’re still talking about non-plug-in hybrids… That’s a non-starter.

  2. Josephus says:

    It’s a little too late for us. We are leasing a Ford Focus Electric that we’ve named Ellie Blue. We love the car but range loss has really cut into our ability to get around (44K miles = 35 AER in winter). With no word on battery replacement cost, upgrades, backwards compatibility of future batteries, and no hints of 200+ mile version, we are likely to get a volt next fall to hold us over until the tesla model 3.

    It’s a real shame, because it is fun to drive and is well equipped. I’ll be very sad not to purchase it at the end of the lease. But in light of 200+ miles, a ~55 mile range all electric will tank in value.

  3. James says:

    This article seems fairly loosely written. For example: ” …other electric car companies…”. How many electric car companies are there? Answer: 1. Ford and other legacy car companies are looking to electrify to meet 2020s-era CAFE, CARB and European C02 standards. I’m not splitting hairs to say they are not electric car companies.

    I’d proffer that hybrids are the best place for major improvements. Ford continues in the well-tread strategy of adding electrification in tiered levels to existing models. From hybrids with relatively small battery packs stuffed in trunks, teamed with conventional ICE engines that do most of the work, to 25 mile plug ins and full BEVs in descending production numbers relative to the cost of building each one.

    This seems logical if you put yourself into the mind of a gas-car auto executive. No cost to develop a new platform, and minimum losses due to buying batteries. With gas prices low – there is only legislative pressure to put out these cars. The hybrid version can be the least demanding to produce, and contain the least losses.

    Problem is, saying the costs are too high to “democratize” the process, is a poor excuse not to evolve their business model. What is in effect, is still large legal efforts to reduce the impending requirements down the road. This is much cheaper than the long-term development of new EV platforms, and committing to buying large quanitities of the best battery formulation currently available. It’s so much more typical for auto execs to complain that it’s so hard to build an electric car, and so expensive…And sit back and do the minimum until others step up and force them to do more.

    Bolt at 200 miles range puts Ford in a spot. I think it places pressure on Ford much more than Tesla to speed up Model 3. If Ford has no proprietary hybrid or PHEV like Prius or Ioniq, they look like they are old-news, old think and low tech.

    This type of label hurts an auto company with the youth. No longer can building faster Mustangs or fancier Explorers make Ford seem “cutting edge”.

    Hyundai is nipping at Ford in a big way. If it weren’t for F-150 and a plethora of CUVs, sometimes more than one in a particular segment…Hyundai/KIA would have already passed Ford in sales. It’s a pivotal time for Ford. At least with Ford and VW electrifying more existing models, they can insure they are playing the side of the game that includes a Democtratic Congress and White House. I would state that they are too far behind the S. Koreans and domestic rivals in hedging against higher gas prices – and this could deal a major blow to Ford in the foreseeable future.