Ford invests $4.5bn in electric and hybrid vehicles

1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4
Updated 19 December 2015
0

Ford invests $4.5bn in electric and hybrid vehicles

LONDON: When Ford officials were challenged by Arab News at the recent Dubai Motor Show that while other companies have made their future choices clear between electric or hybrid technology Ford was “sitting on the fence”, they denied such concept and confirmed that the company is actually doing both.

Now, Ford has announced a huge investment of $4.5 billion to develop more than a dozen vehicles that it knows few consumers would want to buy right now.
Ford is betting that by 2020, when it plans to offer 40 percent of its global lineup in hybrid or plug-in versions, they won’t have to battle low petrol prices.
This huge investment also represents an acknowledgement that government regulations in the US and Europe are forcing auto companies on this path, regardless of what consumers want to buy.
CEO Mark Fields says Ford sees longer term consumer demand moving toward electrified drive.
“In this business, you have to project where you see consumer demand going forward,” Fields said to the press recently.
“Our view ongoing is still that the price of a barrel of oil is going to go up over time, so it’s really important for us to anticipate that. Secondly, we have the regulations that are out there and we have to meet that.”
The role those regulations play in decisions like this “should not be underestimated,” Fields added.
Low gasoline prices at the moment are injecting uncertainty into automakers’ product development plans as the midterm review of federal fuel economy standards approaches in 2017.
Ford wants the review to involve a “fact-based” look at not only consumer acceptance of the more efficient technologies but also what has changed since the industry and the government agreed in 2011 to pursue a target of 54.5 mpg.
“We want to be part of the solution, but we want to make sure it works for consumers and it works for us as a company,” Fields said.
“There have been some fundamental changes, particularly around oil supply and pricing of oil and the role they play in consumer demand.”
In the meantime, though, Ford is dedicating significant resources toward plug-in hybrids.
Ford has sold about 65,000 electrified vehicles this year through November and is the leader in plug-in hybrid sales.

More hybrids

Fields said the automaker would introduce 13 hybrid or electric cars by 2020 in addition to the six it offers today.
Some would be versions of new or existing vehicles while others would be offered as electrified vehicles only.
Fields said Ford sees plug-in hybrids, rather than fully electric cars as the variety that will grow most in the coming years.
Ford’s product development chief, Raj Nair, said more than 40 percent of Ford’s lineup will be offered as a plug-in or hybrid in 2020, up from 13 percent now.
The investment represents Ford’s largest ever in electrified vehicles in a five-year span.
Nair said Ford expects to get the same return on investment on electrified vehicles as on gasoline-powered vehicles.
Ford also said it will start selling an updated version of its Focus Electric in late 2016, but that is not one of the 13 upcoming vehicles.
The Focus will be capable of traveling 100 miles on a full charge, up from 76 miles today, and of being recharged to 80 percent within half an hour, two hours faster than the current version.
Ford hinted that it plans to unveil a larger plug-in vehicle, likely an update to the Fusion Energi, at the Detroit auto show (NAIAS) in January.
During a media event at its engineering facility last week, a car plugged into a charger was hidden under a cover next to a sign saying “top secret until Jan. 11”, which is the first day of NAIAS media preview.
Nair wouldn’t say how many of the 13 vehicles would be battery-electric vs. hybrid or discuss the plan in further detail.
He said Ford’s vehicles would be “competitive” in range and cost.
He conceded that low gasoline prices are hurting sales of Ford’s hybrids and plug-ins now, but he said demand would rise when oil prices rise, vehicles offer improved driving range and consumers learn more about the vehicles.
“We still see feedback that people are concerned about range on a plug-in hybrid, which doesn’t make sense,” Nair said.
“If we do that type of education, we believe that plug-in hybrids make a lot of sense for a lot of consumers.”
Ford also announced that it was expanding its electrified vehicles research and development program in Europe and Asia to accelerate work on battery technology around the world. Kevin Layden, director of Ford’s electrification programs, said battery costs are “coming down faster than anyone predicted.”
“As both an auto and a mobility company, we at Ford are going further than just designing the product to move people from point A to point B,” Nair said.
“We are considering the way customers interact with our vehicles as a unified experience, looking for ways to excite and delight customers and make their lives better.”


Beijing ponders support for petrol-electric hybrids

Photo supplied
Updated 13 July 2019

Beijing ponders support for petrol-electric hybrids

  • Hybrid cars sold in China include versions of Toyota’s Corolla, Levin and Camry sedans, and versions of Honda’s Accord and CR-V

BEIJING: China is considering re-classifying petrol-electric hybrid vehicles so they get more favorable treatment than all-petrol or diesel counterparts under clean car rules, making it easier for automakers to meet environment quotas and offer more choice.
Global hybrid leaders Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. would be among the biggest beneficiaries of such change, which could allow them to make more hybrids and less of the more costly all-electric vehicles, experts said, after reviewing the draft policy proposal published on Tuesday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China has some of the world’s strictest rules regarding the production of greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles, as it battles unhealthy levels of air pollution in its crowded cities.
In the draft proposal, hybrids would still be considered fossil-fueled but re-classified as “low fuel consumption passenger vehicles.” Significantly, the number of negative points incurred for making hybrids will be less than for traditional vehicles.
The proposed change came as a surprise, some experts and industry officials said, because the government has never given any preferential treatment for hybrid technology. Previously, the government offered subsidies for, for instance, the purchase of all-electric cars.
Hybrid cars sold in China include versions of Toyota’s Corolla, Levin and Camry sedans, and versions of Honda’s Accord and CR-V. Beijing-based spokesmen for both Japanese automakers declined to comment.