Our Q & A With Ford About Their EVs + Webcast On EV Momentum (video)

JUL 17 2013 BY JAY COLE 10

Ford's Lineup Of "Electrified" Vehicles

Ford’s Lineup Of “Electrified” Vehicles

Yesterday, Ford invited us to attend a webcast on “Electrified Vehicle Momentum” without saying specifically what the event would be about.

Ford Outlines The Future Of "Electrics" On Webcast To Detroit Journalists (click to enlarge)

Ford Outlines The Future Of “Electrics” On Webcast To Detroit Journalists (click to enlarge)

In the end it was mostly about hybrid efficiency on the C-MAX,  Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and an interesting recap of the “year that was” with electrics with Ford.

You can find that video streamed below, plus some bullet points by Ford on the changes – like increasing the EV-only ceiling in the hybrids from 62 mph to 85 mph, and calibrations to increase efficiency.

Fortunately, we were given the opportunity to do a little Q&A with Todd Nissen, who is the Sustainability Communications Manager at Ford after the event which was held in Detroit Tuesday.

With help from Alan Campbell, our resident Ford expert here at InsideEVs, we asked some of the questions the ‘plug-in guys’ really want to know…and although we really did not get the answers we wanted, at least Ford knows some of us still care:

Can we expect Ford to offer the lower trim level Focus Electric being offered in Germany, here in the NA to better compete with the Leaf S?  

The 2014 Focus Electric will be offered with the Standard package which includes the rear view camera, Sony audio system, dual-zone electronic temperature control, push-button start and more. We know our North America customers don’t want to compromise technology, features and a fun-to-drive aspects when considering electrified products, and our plan is to offer them a Focus Electric that has no compromises. Ford has not announced any plans to introduce additional trim levels at this time.

When does Ford plan to offer the DC Combo Charger for the Focus Electric (or other plug-ins) , that GM will offer on the Spark EV?

We are actively continuing research on the DC Combo Charger and believe coordination with several stakeholder groups and other automakers is key to ensuring the best product attributes for consumers. Ford has not yet announced DC charging future offerings for the Focus Electric or other electrified products but will continue to keep the public and all stakeholder groups updated with any informed decisions.

California A Major Buyer Of Ford's Plug-In Hybrids

California A Major Buyer Of Ford’s Plug-In Hybrids

Based on the EV project with Schaeffler, is there a possibility of a Fiesta Electric, to better compete with the smaller Honda Fit EV and Chevy Spark EV?

While electrification is a large part of Ford’s overall fuel efficiency strategy, we have not announced any plans for a new electric vehicle. We believe our line-up of electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids provides customers the Power of Choice, with a vehicle to fit many lifestyles and different driving habits.

With the end of partnership between Ford and Azure, is there a possibility of Ford launching a new EV based on the 2014 Transit Connect Van/Wagon for the commercial market?

At this time Ford has not announced any new electrified offerings.  Ford continues to support any existing transit Connect Electric vans manufactured through our former relationship with Azure. 

Are production constraints at the Michigan Assembly Plant, which is reported to be at 114%, part of the reason Ford has not previously more aggressively marketed the 2014 Focus Electric.

Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) is one of the most innovative manufacturing facilities in North America and the world, producing full electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid and EcoBoost power trains all down the same assembly line. The manufacturing flexibility of MAP allows us to adjust production to meet market demand, and we believe we are producing the appropriate level of Focus Electrics. The Focus Electric is performing well in dealer showrooms and dealers are now preparing for the arrival of the 2014 model. By offering consumers the power of choice with different electrified and fuel efficient technologies, we feel we are providing the right product capacity to meet demand.

Our thanks to Ford for taking some time out to talk with us.

Separately (and unrelated to this article), I took a tour of some Ford assembly facilities and the Ford Museum yesterday…always a fun outing I encourage for anyone in the Greater Detroit Area.

Below:  Ford media webcast regarding their “EV Momentum + Ford bullet points on electric efficiency changes:

 

  • Ford’s share of U.S. electrified vehicle market grows to nearly 16 percent during first half of 2013, a 12-point gain over the same period last year – supporting the company’s nearly 1-point increase in overall U.S. market share, the biggest gain of any full-line automaker
  • Ford electrified vehicle sales help drive coastal growth, including the largest retail share increase in California of any brand this year; top trade-in for new Ford C-MAX Hybrid is Toyota Prius, which has seen a 5 percent drop in sales
  • Committed to continuously improving fuel economy, Ford is enhancing the on-road fuel economy performance of its 2013-model hybrid vehicles
  • Ford also expanding electrification engineering jobs by nearly 50 percent and investing $50 million in electrified vehicle development centers to further its commitment to deliver leading fuel economy across its lineup

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10 Comments on "Our Q & A With Ford About Their EVs + Webcast On EV Momentum (video)"

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Sounds just like a marketing person – He managed to say a whole bunch without ever actually communicating anything at all.

That’s why love companies with people like Elon Musk at the helm… who say and do actual things. They don’t delegate to some C-level marketeer who’s mostly interested in covering their own behind with non-committal statements of fluffy nothingness like we just read here.

I’ve been in the MAP plant a few times. My company built a lot of the equipment in there. I remember a few years ago when we were working on the tooling for a Focus EV, It was exciting back then. Now it appears Ford is content. Why not a teaser just to say “hey we’re working on stuff”, instead of saying “nothing to report at this time”.

You should have asked him why he thinks so many people of using their “power of choice” to buy/lease the Nissan Leaf rather than their compliance car.

So how DID Ford raise the top speed in EV mode to 85????

There was always more power in the battery when charged via break regen or the engine, it’s just that the software told the system to stop using it at 62mph.

Now when a owner does well with break regeneration in the city, when they enter the freeway, they can either choose to use up their available EV power buy going full EV until meeting the charge threshold, or use hybrid mode for the duration of their higher speed trip.

What this means is now C-MAX Hybrid drivers will be able to drive at 70mph on the freeway, and stay in hybrid mode. The way it was broken down to me was that it’s like Ford now offers an ECO mode that reduces accessory drain on the battery, while also offering a Max EV mode that offers higher speed Full EV and higher speed Hybrid Mode.

SImilar to what other hybrid automakers offer, but it’s automatic, without the loss of performance to get the better mpg.

Too bad you guys didn’t ask if there was any updates for the truck hybrid system they are developing with Toyota. Haven’t heard anything on that for a while.

“We know our North America customers don’t want to compromise technology, features…” Wanna bet? For a lower-price EV, we WILL compromise technology and features. In fact, I rather like not having so many distractions when I drive. EVs don’t *need* a ton of flashy lights and indicators. Heck, we don’t even need most of the gauges that ICE vehicles need (e.g., oil pressure, coolant temperature, etc.).

I’m glad that some of you also noticed this guy said a lot of words with no substance whatsoever. “Hey Ford guy! What about the ‘Stop Safely Now’ issue on your Focus EV and other hybrids? Fixed that yet?” “We here at Ford are committed to the best driving experience possible, so we are always researching new ways to get the driver as connected to the vehicle as possible…”

Ditto – they’ll talk a good marketing plan, but have not, to my knowledge, publicly addressed the “Stop Safely Now” issue that many of us owners have experienced. I contrast our experience with Ford against our experience with Chevy (we also own a Volt). Chevy is all over customer feedback on the Volt – they called us (!!!) regularly during our first year of ownership.

This was a very disappointing interview. I’m sure you must be frustrated to not get anything of interest.