In a recent press conference, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced a plan to add 13 new electric or hybrid vehicles to Ford’s lineup by 2020, spending $4.5 billion in the largest electrified vehicle investment in a five-year-period in the company’s history.
While 13 percent of the current Ford lineup available at nationwide dealers is composed of electric or hybrid vehicles, the new plan will raise that proportion to 40 percent. Ford officials would not say how many of the 13 vehicles would be hybrids versus battery-electric.
While electrified vehicles sales have recently taken a blow due to persistent low gas prices from the Northeast to Utah, Ford has only increased its commitment to energy efficiency. Ford product development chief Raj Nair said the move is driven both by government fuel-economy standards and consumer expectations.
While he conceded low gas prices aren’t helping the electric market, Nair said Ford is dedicated to promoting greener automobiles. “We’ve got a lot to do to inform and educate the customer about the advantages of not just the battery-electric vehicles, but plug-in hybrids in particular and hybrids,” Nair relayed to reporters in Dearborn, Mich.
As vehicle battery technology becomes increasingly efficient and less expensive, Ford expects to get a similar return on investment as it would from gas-powered cars.
The plan also includes a new Focus Electric car coming next year that features fast-charge capabilities. The fast-charge feature will be able to charge 80 percent of the battery in 30 minutes and has a projected 100-mile range, perfect for short rides through the Utah desert. The fast-charge feature will cut charging time by about two hours compared to Focus Electric models currently available through dealers.
Ford is currently the top-seller of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the U.S., from Utah to the Eastern Seaboard. The automaker is also expanding its electrified vehicles research and development program and electric vehicle offerings to dealers in Europe, China, Taiwan and Korea.