Ford Pushes Vehicle Electrification, But Mostly Without Plug

By · July 17, 2013

Ford Focus Electric

Ford has sold about 900 units of the Focus Electric so far this year.

Plug-in electric vehicles got short shrift in a Ford webinar yesterday. The company used the event, dubbed “Electrified Vehicle Momentum,” to announce a raft of enhancements to its conventional hybrid vehicles. Plug-in electrics could one day benefit from Ford’s increased investment in hybrid batteries and powertrains, but for now, the plug appears to be a secondary concern for the company.

Ford announced it will invest $55 million more in developing electrified vehicles, said Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development. The additional money will help Ford boost battery testing and development, said Nair. The high-cost of batteries—and their limitations in providing range—are a factor limiting widespread adoption of pure electric vehicles. So better batteries could eventually mean more sales of not just hybrids, but also pure electric vehicles.

New conventional hybrids from Ford will have these enhancements: active grille shutter optimization; air conditioner compressor optimization; and shortening of the warm-up time for electric-only driving by 50 percent. Will these developments also benefit owners of Ford plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars? Not yet. “We are not providing enhancement updates on future plug-in vehicles at this time,” Ford told PluginCars.com.

The clear message: Though it offers plug-in electric vehicles, Ford sees hybrids as the real future—and is using the term “electrification” to mean any vehicle with an electric motor to provide some form of propulsion, even if minor. (In other words, there's a big difference between “electrification,” and “electric car.”)

“We believe that traditional hybrids will represent the majority of electrified vehicles by 2020,” Ford told PluginCars. “They deliver great fuel economy, are the most affordable without any change in customer behavior and provide no-compromise fun to drive. We expect plug-in hybrids to be the second highest percentage of sales and full battery electric vehicles to remain a niche vehicle.” Ford has held this position for the past several years.

Ford currently offers two hybrid models, the Fusion and C-Max; two plug-in electric vehicles, the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi; and one pure electric model, the Focus electric. This is likely to remain the Ford electric lineup for some time. “Ford has not announced any other plans to bring one kind of EV technology to the entire product line,” the company told PluginCars.com.

Ford said it sold more than 46,000 units of its electrified models through June. Plug-ins represent approximately 10 percent of those sales—with Ford selling 2,482 C-Max Energi units; 1,584 Fusion Energi sedans; and 900 Focus Electric models.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

They are "pushing electrification without the plug", or they see non-plugin hybrids as the largest market share? Big difference. This article seems to be spinning Ford's statements into something they are not. Toyota's Prius sales are down. Does that mean Toyota is not pushing Prius'?

· · 3 years ago

I think I agree with Ford more than this article. Do I want to see plug-ins wildly successful? Sure! But do I think that the whole market is suddenly going to flock to them this decade? Realistically, no. Hybrids aren't necessarily the long-term future, but they are probably the best growth market for this decade (in terms of absolute numbers). They are the vast majority of electrified vehicles in 2013, and will almost definitely still be the majority in 2020. That's not a bad thing, though. Ford has already stepped up beyond Toyota in at least offering an optional plug with every hybrid in their lineup. From a business perspective, Ford's strategy seems pretty sound.

· · 3 years ago

Yeah, I just hope "Electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket" is one campaign pledge that will not be kept. Cheaper, American Made Fuel is one of the chief selling points of EV's currently. If we can't even keep that advantage, then I don't know what will help sell EV's. This is why I think hydrogen cars are a non-starter, since the fuel will most likely always be pricier than gasoline.

· · 3 years ago

The only future for hybrids that makes sense for consumers is to eliminate total dependence on gasoline -- today the most flexible way to do that is with plug ins. Yet we have been waiting, waiting, waiting for Ford to deliver a C-Max Energi for 6 months -- and the local Florida Ford dealers have failed to make one available. Ford will never meet plug-in hybrid sales goals if they refuse to support their dealers!!! Or is there something wrong with the vehicle that they refuse to acknowledge????? Their position makes no sense.

· · 3 years ago

@David,

I'm sorry to hear of your frustration. I recently spotted my first C-Max Energi in the wild, here in Syracuse (plenty of regular hybrids around, though). From the license plate frame, I know that it was purchased in Rochester. It still isn't actually available within almost 100 miles of here. Ford definitely is NOT matching supply with demand as they continue to claim. It's sad, too, because it's a decent car.

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