Ford’s Electrification Manager Discusses Automakers $4.5 Billion Electrified Vehicle Investment Plans
Ford’s Electrification Manager, Kevin Layden, says the automaker is planning to spend $4.5 billion for the next round of electrified vehicles, despite current obstacles like low gas prices, reduced sale volumes, and stiff competition.
Layden is 53 and has been with Ford for 30 years. His primary focus for the company has always been on efficiency. His family drives only plug-in vehicles. Layden is confident that electrified vehicles will continue to see vast improvements.
Automotive News journalist Richard Truett interviewed Layden, and came away saying:
“Kevin Layden is a cheerful, easygoing guy who, outwardly at least, seems impervious to the high pressures of his job: managing Ford’s hybrid and electrification efforts. If the stress gets to him, he doesn’t show it.”
Layden said that it’s not difficult for him to stay positive about EVs even with low fuel prices. He points out that it’s not just about gas prices and increased SUV buying trends. He explained:
“With [plug-in hybrid electric vehicles], we’re selling better economics as well as features. People are buying because they can go 10 weeks without going to the gas station. That means less time standing in the cold or rain. The features, the reliability, the excellent driving experience and the economics are continuing to build. More to come on all of these fronts.”
He confirmed that as part of the spending, Ford will release 13 new EVs by 2020. Efforts will be made to cut battery costs and a next-gen Powersplit transmission will come into play. Also, Layden promised that by the end of the decade, Ford will offer an electric, full-size SUV and/or truck.
Although GM and BMW have found success using a range extender, Layden is not sold on the concept. He said:
“We’re very comfortable with the efficiency of the Powersplit transmission as a PHEV choice. The overall efficiency can’t be matched by a range extender. You can look at some of our key competitors, such as GM, who have increased the size of their engines and gone to a powersplit configuration to try to close the gap with Ford on attributes including fuel economy.”
In terms of the Focus Electric, Layden shared that the company has learned quite a bit. Customers are happy with the drive of the electric vehicle and find charging to be simple. But, for the future model, the keys are of course more range and DC charging. Next year’s Focus Electric will meet both criteria, with range at 100 miles.