Ford: Purpose-Built Plug-In Vehicles Aren’t What We Do
It is mostly thought the only way to correctly do a pure electric vehicle is to make it purpose-built.
The Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S are two prime examples of what you can achieve by going the purpose-built route. Neither the LEAF nor the Model S have a battery pack that saps up cargo space.
On the smaller side, the BMW i3 may be the best example of how you can make a compact electric vehicle that doesn’t suffer from reduced cargo space.
It’s all in the design. When going purpose built, the battery pack is almost always under the floorpan. This is beneficial for several reasons, including a lower center of gravity and the previously mentioned bonus of cargo space.
Ford’s only BEV, the Focus Electric, is not purpose-built and it has that battery hump in the hatch area to prove it. Likewise, both the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi suffer from cargo holds invaded by the battery pack.
Most likely this would not be an issue if the vehicles in question were designed from the ground up to be plug-ins, but that’s not Ford’s way.
At this week’s Plug-in 2013 Conference in San Diego, Green Car Congress spoke with Michael Tinskey, Ford’s Associate Director, Vehicle Electrification & Infrastructure. Tinskey’s words tell rest of the story, though we should note that Green Car Congress was asking if Ford’s future holds a B platform (think Ford Fiesta) or smaller plug-in:
“It’s not impossible, it’s just becomes more challenging. In our case, our strategy is built on how to leverage a global platform and get not only a diesel or a gasoline powertrain into the product, but how do you also get an electric powertrain into the product. When you go down to a B-size platform with that type of strategy, you basically would have to use the majority of the trunk space. So we’re likely going to see some of that product, but it’s going to be purpose-built.”
Even if we throw out the B platform reference, we see that Ford’s stance is that its future plug-ins will still have battery packs positioned in locations that compromise the vehicle and that Ford will only do a plug-in if its done on a global platform that also has gas and diesel options offered.
If true, then this will likely position Ford in a tough place as it tries to sell its non-dedicated plug-ins in a market that’s soon to be full of purpose-built plug-ins, especially in the pure EV space.
In fact, we’re already seeing purpose-built plug-in hybrids, too. Take, for example, the wildly expensive Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and BMW i8.
Unfortunately for Ford, launching new non purpose-built pure electric vehicles probably won’t make sense in a few year’s time, so let’s hope Ford changes its mind on this one.
Source: Green Car Congress