Ford Promises a 300-Mile Electric SUV by 2020

By · January 07, 2017

Battery packs are assembled for the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi at Ford’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti, Mich. In December, Ford said it’s expanding its global battery research and development footprint for electrified vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. announced sweeping plans this week about its work on “vehicle electrification” in the coming years. The press release reiterated the company’s plans, many years in the works, to improve the efficiency of its cars and trucks through the use of battery packs and electric motors. Ford’s use of the term “electrification” is a deliberate way to convey the broadest possible use of electric technology—mostly referring to conventional no-plug gas-electric hybrids, rather than plug-in hybrids or pure battery-electric vehicles. Yet, Ford for the first time this week promised to produce a pure EV sport utility vehicle, with a driving range of 300 miles, by 2020.

“Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles, services and solutions that make people’s lives better,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive. “Our investments and expanding lineup reflect our view that global offerings of electrified vehicles will exceed gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years.”

News about a 300-mile all-electric SUV—and innovative charging services—could get lost among the long list of bullet points in the Ford announcement. For example, Ford plans to produce hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup truck and its iconic Mustang muscle car, as well as gas-electric police cars, hybrid taxis and various autonomous vehicles. But for EV fans, the prospect of a relatively affordable long-range electric SUV—along with ultra-fast and wireless charging—is paramount.

As we reported in December, Ford is one of several automakers to form a global consortium to deploy a highway-based network of 400 high-power charging sites in Europe, beginning in 2017. The number of stations is expected to grow to thousands of stations by 2020. Most public charging stations today offer 50-kW service that can add about 50 miles of driving range over a 30-minute period. But the new planned network will use 350-kW chargers strategically positioned between major cities to reduce electric pit stops for long-range EVs to the length of a coffee break.

Nearly all EV charging today takes place at home or at work, so the need for a robust high-speed charging network is questionable. Nonetheless, a number of automakers are emphasizing the importance of the combination of long-range electric vehicles—capable of 200 to 300 miles on a single charge—and the availability of ultra-fast charging stations to facilitate road trips.

Ford also this week announced a pilot of wireless EV charging technology in the US and Europe. The goal is to make daily recharging as easy as pulling into a parking spot. While wireless charging could be considered a luxury item, and useful for helping drivers not forget to recharge, the ease of plugging in with a wired cord is considered extremely easy and convenient by the vast majority of EV drivers.

Ford said that it has conducted extensive research about the driving patterns of 33,000 Ford EV owners—presumably drivers of the Ford Focus Electric. Its findings include:

  • 88 percent of customers’ habitual daily driving distance is 60 miles or less
  • 80 percent of Ford EV customers charge once a day
  • 92 percent of battery electric car customers say they will purchase another battery electric vehicle as their next car
  • 87 percent of plug-in hybrid customers want another plug-in for their next vehicle

Further did not indicate if its upcoming 300-mile all-electric SUV will be a new model or use an existing platform.

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