Ford To Focus On Performance, Not Electric Drive Technology

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 44

Ford To Focus On Performance

Ford To Focus On Performance

Ford GT At NAIAS

Ford GT At NAIAS

According Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, the automaker is “very well established” with its hybrid and electric-drive technology, so well established that it’s now time for Ford to turn its attention to performance.

At the 2015 NAIAS, Ford’s focus on performance was evident in the reveal of the Ford GT supercar, F-150 Raptor and Shelby GT350R Mustang.  The lack of electrification in any of these vehicles shows us that Ford may be drifting away from this key aspect that’s become so prevalent even in high-performance automobiles.  Per Green Car Congress:

“The stunning Ford GT—which received the EyesOn Design Award at NAIAS for best production vehicle—serves as a technology showcase for top EcoBoost engine performance, aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber construction. Beginning production late next year, the GT will the road in select global markets in honor of the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars placing 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, unlike today’s hybrid drive Le Mans racers, or the new Acura NSX hybrid supercar, also revealed at NAIAS, the GT—nor any of the other Ford performance vehicles unveiled at NAIAS—makes no use of electric drive technology.”

According to Nair, Ford’s focus on weight reduction eliminates the ability to use electric-drive components, which Nair says are still too heavy (at least Ford’s current electrification system are too heavy, according to Nair).  Quoting Raj Nair:

“One of the reasons we didn’t go the hybrid route with some of the products you saw today was efficiency in terms of weight. We are real focused on weight reduction. It’s not just fuel efficiency, not just power efficiency, but it is weight efficiency as well.”

Here’s a little sales rundown, which explains why Ford thinks it should focus on performance to achieve sales gains:

  • In calendar year 2013, Ford sold 86,038 hybrids (conventional and plug-in) and 1,738 Focus EVs, representing 3.5% of its total 2,493,918 vehicle sales.
  • In calendar year 2014, Ford sold 84,583 hybrids and 1,964 EVs for 3.5% of the total 2,480,942 vehicles sold during the year.
  • The business case for performance. Ford sees performance as good business. Sales of performance vehicles are up 70% in the US since 2009, Nair said. High performance vehicles draw customers that in general are younger and better educated.

Nair points to the sales success of Ford’s various ST (high-performance) models.  It’s due to this success that Ford will follow the performance path over the coming years.

It’s unfortunate that Ford doesn’t pair performance with electrification.  And there’s no way Ford can present a valid argument suggesting the performance and electrification don’t go hand in hand.  Ask Porsche, or McLaren.  Or BMW.  Performance these days requires electrification, so hopefully Ford will grasp onto this before it’s too late.

Oh, and with these statements from Nair, it seems obvious that Ford’s rumored 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt competitor may come to market out of necessity, rather than by Ford’s choosing.  Ford can’t sit idly by, letting Chevrolet capture and dominate an entire segment.

Source: Green Car Congress

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44 responses to "Ford To Focus On Performance, Not Electric Drive Technology"

  1. Rick Danger says:

    You can lead them to water……

    1. Miggy says:

      Ford tried this in Australia and are now paying the price, only at number 7.
      Top 10 Selling Brands – February 2015
      1.Toyota – 16,243 sales (up 0.3 percent)
      2.Mazda – 9,057 (down 1.2 percent)
      3.Hyundai – 8,003 (up 2.6 percent)
      4.Holden – 7,809 (down 10.2 percent)
      5.Mitsubishi – 6,242 (up 33.3 percent)
      6.Nissan – 5,984 (up 34.2 percent)
      7.Ford – 5,022 (down 20.1 percent)
      8.Volkswagen – 4,889 (up 11.7 percent)
      9.Subaru – 3,223 (up 3.3 percent)
      10.Honda – 2,901 (up 9.0 percent)
      Thanks to: http://www.themotorreport.com.au/61015/new-car-sales-february-market-buoyed-by-strong-sales-suvs-booming

  2. J Stuyts says:

    Fuel efficiency = (miles you can travel) / (amount of fuel needed)
    Power efficiency = (power you can generate) / (amount of fuel needed)
    Weight efficiency = ???

    1. Josh says:

      Weight Efficiency = Number of Magazine Covers / Ground Weight of the Vehicle

    2. Spider-Dan says:

      Weight efficiency is more of a handling concern.

      There’s more to performance than just straight-line acceleration.

      1. LusTuccc says:

        Tesla S is one of the best handling car ever with his ultra-low center of gravity. Weigh become irrelevant and this lame BS excuse from Ford is no surprise… so is your comment.

  3. Kosh says:

    Ford: “You can have your car in any drivetrain you’d like – so long as it’s ICE”

    1. Lou Grinzo says:

      And the fact that Ford thinks that’s a smart move tells us all we need to know about what they assume about the ratio of knuckle draggers to tree huggers.

      (I have a LONG history of being a knuckle dragging gear head, so no lectures from anyone please, because I called some people knuckle draggers. I know whereof I speak. But I’m now a diehard tree hugger who sees EVs as one of the very few bright spots in our environmental future. And Ford pandering to the ICE lovers instead of trying to push us in the desperately needed direction is nothing short of disgusting.)

      1. pjwood1 says:

        +1 Nothing against how the Energi products work, for some (seating, etc). Ford really isn’t innovating, and this just tops it.

        Both Formula 1, and LMP1, have dramatically reduced fuel alotments, to the point where, with no kinetic energy recovery, this Ford is toast.

        “It’s not just fuel efficiency, not just power efficiency, but it is weight”…we don’t want to give our buyers anything!!

        I do like the pig’s lipstick. Go Ford marketing. Go!

  4. Josh says:

    The Ford GT is going to sell in lower volumes than the Focus EV, I don’t see how that is really going to directly help their sales.

    I know halo vehicle, but in that case why not make it a PHEV. Oh yeah, pushing the “EcoBoost” brand name. Ford needs to squeeze the margins out of that name before it gets stale and surpassed by plug-in technology.

    The next-gen Ford GT will be the “Energi” version, once they have an “Energi” option on every single vehicle they sell.

  5. Mike898 says:

    According to Consumer Reports, they are actually Not well established in the hybrid and EV space. Reliability, it still needs to be Job 1.

    Secondly, No Updates.
    It looks more likely these cars will be abandoned.

    1. Scramjett says:

      I think that likely. I also suspect that Ford’s 200-mile “me too” EV will either sell in very low volumes or end up as vaporware.

      1. Martin T. says:

        I see Ford has not changed there ways,
        typical chasing volume at all costs along with typical Ford quality (ie: lack of)

        They can put as much Ford marketing spin on as they like and as ex Ford customer I can read between the lines of Ford merry go round.

        Same old Ford, it the way we have always done it with their head stuck in the sand.

        With a bit of luck completion will give their back sides a paddling, in Australia at least it is well under way.

        Few die hards are waiting for the Mustang – I say to them in future – enjoy the warranty period at the local Ford dealerships 😎

  6. Scramjett says:

    Thank you. I am now depressed about the future again.

    I think the sales success of gas only performance cars says a lot about the general public. Specifically, they have no interest in change. They will drive us all over a cliff laughing and smiling the whole way.

    1. Mike989 says:

      No, they will blame Obama and not themselves.
      That’s always the go-to plan.

      1. TomArt says:

        +1

      2. Scramjett says:

        Sad but true.

  7. Snowdall says:

    Perhaps Michigan is in some sort of alternate dimension where reality is distorted; a world where climate change isn’t a thing and gas is $1.50/gal. But back in THIS reality the electrification of transportation (or at least SOME zero/low emission alternative) is the glaringly obvious direction of the industry. The fact that companies like Aston Martin, BMW, VW, McClaren get it … and yet there are hold outs like Ford who just can’t seem to see it. Guess eventually the market will shakes things out and Ford will adapt or be gone.

    Another I’m worried about is Chrysler; not a peep from them on alternative drivetrains.

    1. Aaron says:

      That’s not true. Did you miss the information about the upcoming Chrysler PHEV minivan? What about the (money-losing) Fiat 500e?

    2. Anon says:

      Close. $2.06 this morning. On the other hand electricity is running about $0.12 residential. Sooooo… sigh.

  8. James says:

    Ford to Focus on performance, not Electric Drive Technology.

    FOCUS – I see what you did there! 🙂

  9. James says:

    From the article – “Oh, and with these statements from Nair, it seems obvious that Ford’s rumored 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt competitor may come to market out of necessity, rather than by Ford’s choosing.”

    Uh,Eric – DUH!

    ICE manufacturers all are being drug into the electrification future by state and federal mandates. Same on the international scene. These companies aren’t just seeing a lightbulb over their heads and saying – “Hey! I think we need to get an electric car!”

    Only Tesla is doing that. Profit margin reigns supreme. Obviously, that’s why we see all the pathetic stretches the legacy companies go to in making Front-Wheel-Drive BMW subcompacts, and crappy “Smart”cars. It’s hard to experience passion when you’re an engineer when your employer is hanging onto 19th century explode-and-bang technology with a death grip because selling trucks and “performance” cars using it make the most greenbacks.

    GM has a history of following and not inventing new markets. There’s bunches of examples ( Camaro… ) but GM lets Chrysler invent the multi-platform, or the minivan – or Ford invent the ponycar and re-invent the Taurus to an upmarket family sedan before re-issuing the Impala…etc, etc, etc.. One can only think of a couple instances ( Small block V-8, 2 Seat sportscar Corvette or Volt ) where GM has taken a lead, and a chance to get out front of a new market before it’s competitors can react. This is where Volt and Bolt are exciting. Making Ford squirm. It’s great to see Ford scrambling to get a competitive product to market for once. That’s how it works in the ICE-addled SUV-Truck world. Wait for somebody else to do it first. This time, you have to tip your hat to Tesla for starting the entire ball rolling. Tesla didn’t make it’s first car based upon the EV-1 or Volt Concept. Tesla saw a market that could absolutely turn the auto industry on it’s head, and it went for it.

    A giant corporation like Ford, Toyota or GM has an embarrassment of riches. It has so many engineers on staff, they can cut out a group to do a mini-project in the blink of an eye. So for Ford or any one of them to make big announcements and parade concepts around telling you they are going to change the world is not new. In fact – halo projects like the Ford GM just make one moan.
    I mean – Why? Why not something new? Nostalgia only shows lack of imagination in my eyes.

    1. James says:

      *Ford GT ( no edit feature )

      Ford waltzes out Shelby Mustangs and Ford GTs on the wave of lower gasoline prices and a sure-thing Keystone XL pipeline.

      You think the big car companies will be sticking dollars in Republican presidential candidate’s pockets come election time? You betcha! I’m a fiercely independent voter who has mainly stuck towards the conservative-Constitutional side at election time. Now is the first time ever I have swung over more towards listening to liberals as they seem to be the only hope to uphold C.A.R.B. and C.A.F.E.. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be somebody out there ( nobody yet! ) who will endorse an electric car point-of-purchase rebate over a tax refund!

      1. Mike989 says:

        I switched too, when I researched “Do tax cuts pay for themselves”.

        I was disappointed to find, almost all economists knew the answer was NO, yet, it was a plank in the party platform.
        And Bush’s Horrible deficit performance.

        I guess I was the only one who knew this Deficit Fear was just horse manure, while Dems were in office.

        I thought Republican Policy actually worked!

    2. > Nostalgia only shows lack of imagination

      Could not agree more, James.

      Apparently it takes independent thinkers like Elon Musk and (ironically) Christian von Koenigsegg to blaze the trail on record-breaking performance from electric drivetrains.

      Astonishing that with all those resources, Ford can not do better.

      I have to give Porsche credit though, for the 918 Spyder. Just the first step on the path toward zero-emission, but for all its innovations, a very impressive step.

  10. TAP says:

    Don’t forget that Ford is a business. It has a duty to be profitable for its employees and shareholderss. Is Tesla profitable? Not even close.

    Fuel efficiency is important, but performance cars are sexy. And sexy sells. Think of the GT as a rolling billboard for the Ford brand, which will hopefully drive more sales of Fusion hybrids by getting people to look at Ford.

    1. James says:

      @TAP

      Tap, buddy – do you honestly, and with a straight face – believe somebody…ANYBODY is going to go buy that Fusion hybrid because they saw the $700,000 Ford GT on display?! L 🙂 L

      Tesla is a business with a future. ICE-makers are businesses with a shaky future based upon history. Go to the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?” to find scientists explaining how any organism upon earth’s history that has failed to evolve – dies. The auto industry is constantly in flux. If it inaccurately makes long-term investments in old technology to milk profits as current companies do, they’ll find themselves the Blackberry in a world of iPhones and Androids.

      Tesla is practicing what they preach. As in any sustainable energy solution – the key is in initial investment for long-term benefit. You put up large sums for those solar panels initially, to see very big returns as years roll on. This credit card, live for today approach the legacy automakers live by is old news. Our youth already are growing up riding in the back of hybrids and watching Teslas on YouTube smoke Porsches in the 1/4 mile. Hell, name me a high school kid who even knows what a GT 40 was! Companies like Ford are living in the past – and resting on their laurels. If they inaccurately predict the market, they’ll end up where GM did in 2007.

      I’ll invest in the future. A clean-slate Tesla approach doesn’t find profitability in two or three years. Building Gigafactories and inventing entire new fast-charging Supercharger infrastructures takes time. It’s time well spent, as it’s an investment in the future – not hauling out old relics of the past and trying to tweak them for a new generation.

      We’ll see who succeeds.

    2. pjwood1 says:

      There’s quite a Gulf between Ford’s profitability and the emptiness of some of their products. A business needs to compete to survive. Drug-makers see patents expire. With autos, the decline is a bit more insidious. Soon, you start saying “47” when in reality its closer to 38. Then, you’re writing checks and its a slippery slope.

    3. krona2k says:

      I love it when people comment on Tesla’s profitability because they’ve read the headlines after Tesla release their quarterly results. The fact is that Tesla would be profitable now without CARB credits if they weren’t spending vast quantities of money to expand the company. The gross margin on the Model S is much higher than the for the average Ford model. Obviously the Model 3 will be a higher production probably lower margin affair, but the point is that saying Tesla is lost making because they produce EVs and Ford is profitable because they don’t (seriously at least) is nonsense.

  11. Someone at Ford didn’t get the memo:

    http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1503-ford-will-unveil-chevrolet-bolt-competitor-this-year/

    They are going to show a Bolt competitor later this year.

    1. James says:

      Carmaker Soap Opera: “Meanwhile, in Dearborn – ”

      Enter Monday morning board meeting. Ted: “Wow, Frank, Mr. M really took some heat at the shareholders meeting for not having anything to counter the Bolt reveal at NAIAS!” Frank: “Yeah, it was brutal. Seems today’s topic is gonna be – get a BEV concept out ASAP!”

      Cut to Monday afternoon as Ted calls over to engineering and sets up a hasty meet with New Products lead. Ted: “Bob, we’re gonna have to pull that electronic cupholder team out of bldg. D and get them on some kinda 200 mile electric car scheme poste haste!” Bob: “Right on it, chief, we outta be able to have something worked out by Friday.” Ted:
      look man, Frank’s up my *ss in a big way on this thing – GM really made us look bad by announcing their compliance car when we didn’t even think of that yet – can you make it Wednesday?” Bob: Sure thing, Ted, I’m on it!”

      Thursday morning interdepartmental meeting-

      Ted takes the floor. Ted: “Welcome gentleman, I’ve called Bob in to explain our new 200 mile BEV strategy.” Bob: “Well, guys, our crack team has determined we can slap some LG packs on the Global C platform ( C-Max,Escape,Transit Connect ) and the boys over at modeling already have started on a futuristic CUV body we can slap on by the LA Auto Show!” ( Lots of clapping and back slapping ensues ). Frank and Ted: Well done Bob! At this rate, we can possibly get 10,000 or so out to dealers and tell America we’re leaders of the electric revolution!”

      Final scene –

      Ted, Frank and Bob all get into their chauffeured stretch Expedition on their way to the golf tournament smoking stogies and complimenting each other on their new plan to extend the electric car promise out to 2020 or so before hitting the hydrogen fuel cell promise for 2050 real, real hard.

      THE END

      1. TomArt says:

        +1

  12. Kyle says:

    Low Focus Electric sales probably shouldn’t be used as a means as representation of how few electrified vehicles Ford sells, because they aren’t making the Focus Electric available to customers. There are waiting lists in Phoenix for Focus Electrics. A family member was finally able to buy a Focus Electric after waiting 4 months. They can’t claim they don’t sell a car if they don’t make it available.

  13. Get Real says:

    I think GM is doing much better then Ford because GM went through a near-death experience and that shook up the previously ossified thinking enough to accept the future.

    Ford OTOH, doesn’t get it yet. They are still better then Coyota though in my book.

  14. Stephen says:

    “Sales of performance vehicles are up 70% in the US since 2009, Nair said”.
    Every segment has gone up loads since 2009. Did he forget the great depression of 2008? What’s the increase for EVs? Zero in 2009 to 100,000+ in 2014. What’s that in percentage Nair?
    Good grief!
    At least we have Tesla, Nissan, GM and BMW that know where the future lies.

  15. Mike I says:

    Ford will eventually have to “make their numbers” for CAFE and ZEV mandates. They will make enough profit from their performance vehicles that they will get by. However, if they don’t have appealing and competitive EV and PHEV offerings they will have to heavily subsidize them with gas guzzler profits to make their numbers. I’m sure it will all work out in the end, but that seems like it could be a painful way to move forward.

  16. Jeff Songster says:

    So… whaddya know.. conflicting messages out of a big 3 maker… 200 mile mee too EV… but we don’t care about EVs. Come on everyone… buy a LEAF or Model S or iMiev… support the makers who really want EVs to succeed.

  17. BraveLilToaster says:

    I don’t get it.

    Can’t they do both?

  18. Bloggin says:

    This article is written based on a flawed premise.

    “One of the reasons we didn’t go the hybrid route with some of the products you saw today was efficiency in terms of weight. We are real focused on weight reduction. It’s not just fuel efficiency, not just power efficiency, but it is weight efficiency as well.”

    What this means is that for the carbon fiber GT Super Sports Car with over 600 HP and over 500 lb ft torque from a lightweight twin turbo engine, going light weight offers a better weight to power ratio, than adding hundreds of lbs for a heavy battery packs, electric motors, along with an engine.

    And the “very well established” aspect of vehicle electrification is tied to what’s coming next that Ford has not announced. Which does not mean Ford is not focused on electrification leadership.

    How soon do we forget that the current Fusion/C-Max Hybrid, Energi and Focus Electric are just retrofit/first generation models for the marketplace launched back as early as 2010 when virtually no one else offered electrification on more than one model.

    Now that other automakers have had about 5 years to catch up, by late 2015 Ford will offer a purpose built 200 mile EV concept, and by 2017 we be able to leapfrog the competition with a laundry list of second generation purpose built hybrids, plug-in hybrids, new electrified AWD drivetrain for cars and for trucks/SUVs, along with second veneration full EVs.

    There is so much more coming from Ford toward the end of 2015 and over the next two years.

    1. Bloggin says:

      another important point….

      It is ‘Ford Performance’, which is a separate performance/race car division within Ford, that is not focused on high cost/low volume vehicle electrification at the moment, but Ford Motor Company is.

    2. QCO says:

      I hope you are correct in your assumptions, but I’m not entirely convinced…yet.

      Ford did take an early lead in hybrids, but since then all they have done is added a clip-on battery to the hybrids and built a 3rd party compliance car conversion (like Chysler did). Even the hybrid drive trains haven’t spread beyond 3 cars (and they took one away [Escape]).

      Either they have a very large stealth electrification effort going on, or the siren call of profitable ICE trucks and performance cars in an era of low fuel prices have captured their attention. All the prima face evidence suggests that energy efficiency at Ford is all about ICE turbocharging and light weight aluminum construction.

      We shall see…

  19. Max Looker says:

    This won’t affect their electrification plans. Performance vehicles have different priorities than mainstream cars. Fuel efficiency will permanently be a top concern of buyers, and Ford won’t ignore that.

  20. EV says:

    ford dumb af

  21. Gadge says:

    I’ve seen it time and time again where large companies fail to ‘see the light’ (of disruptive technologies) and suffer the consequences.
    The classic example that comes to mind is Kodak’s reluctance to embrace digital photography despite owning numerous patents for it.
    Ford is lagging the re-electrification of the automobile!!!