Posted in: Commentary,
by Gregg Laskoski on Aug 18, 2012 07:00 AM
Ford is investing $135 million to develop more electrified vehicles to compete better against Toyota, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Toyota is the automaker that continues to dominate the hybrid powertrain market having sold more than 186,200 hybrids in the U.S. through July, or 75% of all 249,300 hybrids sold in the U.S. in that period.
Ford, by comparison, sold only 9,300 in that period, according to data from HybridCars.com and is obviously looking to close the gap.
Ambitious plans to say the least. How will they sell more and better electric vehicles? By offering high mileage vehicles that many of us on Main Street might actually be able to afford!
Business reporter Alisa Priddle says Ford will soon have six vehicles with electric motors for sale in the U.S., with more to come, according to Ford's vp of powertrain engineering.
The Focus Electric is already on sale in a few states. An all-new C-Max hybrid that gets 47 m.p.g. and will be Ford's most affordable hybrid in the lineup, at $25,995, goes on sale next month. The C-Max Energi plug-in will follow in November; it can reach 85 m.p.h. in its pure electric mode. Also expected later this year are the Fusion hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in and a Lincoln MKZ hybrid.
Priddle says the hope is that the new products will offer consumers an alternative to Toyota products, and Ford will communicate what it says is a lower price and better fuel economy of some of its vehicles.
With plans to expand its electrified portfolio, Ford eventually will have about 1,000 engineers working on hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles at its 285,000-square-foot Advanced Electrification Center in Dearborn.
There are about 360 engineers working with lithium-ion batteries and other components in Dearborn, according to Kevin Layden, director of electrification programs. He says Ford has added about 70 workers to the electrification team in the last year and will add about the same number in the next 12 months.
Since the introduction of the Escape hybrid in 2004, Ford has reduced the cost of its hybrid technology by 30%, largely by switching from nickel-hydride batteries to lithium-ion.
Costs will continue to come down substantially over the next five years, but Layden said he is not sure another 30% is possible.
For consumers interested in an American-made all-electric or hybrid vehicle, they'll now have some more affordable choices.