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Published on December 11th, 2015 | by Tina Casey


Ford Stirs The EV Pot With $4.5 Billion For New EVs, Batteries, Fast Charging

December 11th, 2015 by  

Just in time to undercut the threat of an “affordable” Tesla EV, the Ford Motor Company has pledged a massive five year, $4.5 billion — that’s billion — investment including 13 new EVs, bringing its electrified vehicle portfolio up to more than 40 percent of its global nameplates. To be clear, new plug-in hybrids are included in the EV group, but Ford is highlighting a new 100 percent electric fast-charging Focus Electric with an anticipated range of 100 miles.

For you Tesla fans out there, yes we know that 100 is not 340 (or 400, for that matter) but considering that the average daily drive in the US is about 37 miles, there seems to be plenty of space in the market for a reasonably priced all-electric vehicle with less than optimal range. Ford also has the cushion of a hybrid lineup to attract and hold customers who value the electric experience but don’t have consistent access to charging stations, or who need (or simply want) the convenience of longer driving distances and quicker fuel-ups.

Ford EV investment 2

Ford And The COP21 Paris Climate Talks: So There, Jim & Ted

When an iconic US auto manufacturer goes all in for the EV market, you know the days of the gasmobile are winding down. We’re thinking it’s no accident that Ford announced a major investment in the future of electrified vehicles in the last days of the COP21 Paris climate talks, as negotiators scramble to reach an agreement on carbon emissions before the clock runs out. Here’s a subtle reference to the talks in Ford’s press release:

Ford’s shift to add electrified vehicle solutions answers increasing global trends calling for cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Though US Senators Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz have been doubling down on climate change denial,  the world has been moving right along toward another mobility paradigm, and auto manufacturers are moving right along with it.

The Mobility Company

Speaking of new paradigms, Ford expects to create a competitive edge in the future EV market by positioning itself as a mobility company that invests significant research dollars in social science-based research to anticipate social trends affecting the future auto market. The difference is that instead of doing conventional customer surveys, Ford has been sending research teams out in the field to observe and catalog vehicles in use.

The user experience model has already resulted in Ford’s “Smart Mobility” plan, which the company rolled out last January as a package of mobility projects that blows up the driver/owner model, especially as it relates to urban mobility.

Ford also used COP21 as a platform to promote its “Dynamic Shuttle” collaborative ride-on-demand service tailored for corporate campuses and other institutional environments. The shuttle launched as an experiment earlier this year, and on December 10 Ford announced that it has just moved into the pilot test stage.

Moving forward, part of Ford’s $4.5 billion investment is also going to a sea change in the way it develops new products, as summed up by Raj Nair, the company’s executive vice president for product development:

The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people…


We are using new insights from anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists and designers, along with traditional business techniques, to reimagine our product development process..

The New Focus Electric

That wide-ranging attention to R&D is already evident in the new Focus Electric, which Ford anticipates launching into production some time next year.

According to Ford, the new Focus Electric will sport a new fast-charge capability for an 80 percent charge in half an hour, a good two-hour improvement over this year’s model, and new interfaces for maximizing efficiency, including regenerative braking.

As for that 100-mile battery range, that could be just the beginning of a new line of longer range, lighter weight EV batteries from Ford. Here’s a nifty infographic illustrating its full investment package, featuring battery R&D on the top line:

Ford EV investment

More And Better Batteries

Ford is expanding its EV battery R&D with an eye on the global marketplace. Among its other COP21-timed announcements, Ford also had this to say on December 10:

Ford is expanding its electrified vehicles research and development program in Europe and Asia this year, creating a “hub and spoke” system that allows the global team to further accelerate battery technology and take advantage of market-specific opportunities.

Ford expects the new arrangement to leverage virtual real-time testing for EV batteries that reduces the need to produce expensive prototypes, so we’re thinking that Ford’s development of its 3D printing resources will also come into play in addition to its experience with HIL (hardware in the loop) systems.

As for the future-future, next week CleanTechnica will be chatting with a Ford engineer to catch up on the company’s fuel cell electric vehicle program, so stay tuned.

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Image credits (all): via Ford Motor Company.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • EVcine

    Sounds great then the usual big stomach drop happens. FORD PUT UP OR SHUT UP ! Don’t talk about it JUST DO IT !

  • Mike333

    Ford has no market leadership in battery tech. Who are they going to be selling to?
    Better to write a good contract with LG chem, get the latest developments in batteries, and update the CMax, Focus and Fusion with better batteries.

    PR isn’t innovation.

  • Steve N

    Go Ford! Make EVs and sell the Lions. It could be one of the best years ever in Michigan.

  • Freddy D

    The Focus electric is one of the most under-rated and under talked-about electric cars out there. It’s a truly excellent EV. Starting with 143 horsepower on a small car, vs 107 for a leaf. Add fatter stickier tires and a better suspension than any other EV except for a tesla, and this thing is FUN to drive. And liquid cooled batteries instead of air etc etc. adding range and fast charging is a welcome development. Love it.

    • Mike333

      It’s insufficient, non-competetive range. The Leaf now is 107, next year 150. The Chevy Bolt will be out in 2017 with 200 miles of range.

      Press Released don’t match market leadership.

      • Freddy D

        The Focus Electric has matched or beat the Leaf in every respect, including pure driving fun, in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 yet the Leaf gets all the attention. True story that for the 2016 model year the Leaf offers extended range (for a hefty fee). I wonder if it’s because the current class of EV buyers wants to be noticed for being green – I don’t get it. The mass market will demand exactly the opposite – they want to be mainstream by definition. Anyway, huge kudos to Ford for electrifying 40% of one of the worlds largest auto fleets by 2020

        • Otis11

          “The Focus Electric has matched or beat the Leaf in every respect”

          Except that it’s not sold in Texas (or most states for that matter… trust me, I looked into it as I was potentially interested due to the fact that I can get a discount on Fords that I can’t get on Nissans…)
          It’s priced higher
          Has a lower range (every year from 2012 to present, I went back and checked just to be sure 76 vs 84 EPA)

          …I’m sure there are more, but I’ve made the point.

          Don’t get me wrong, it looks to be a great car (and I genuinely am interested in one), but the Leaf is very comparable. Your claims don’t stand up.

          • TedKidd

            …not as much space. And does it have app access like carwings?

          • hybridbear

            Yes. The MyFord Mobile app is far superior to Carwings. MyFord Mobile offers multiple options for programming preconditioning while plugged in, scheduled charging times, location based charging, trip tracking & more. You can also remote start & run the climate control while the car is unplugged so that you never have to get into a cold/hot car that’s been parked outside.

          • hybridbear

            Except that it’s not sold in Texas (or most states for that matter

            You are incorrect. It is sold in all 50 states. However, it is not stocked by dealers in all 50 states. Any dealer that sells the Energi models is also approved to sell the Focus Electric & can order one from the factory.

            It’s priced higher

            Also not true. The Focus Electric comes with only one trim level, comparable to the highest Leaf trim. It is less expensive than the Leaf & it offers superior performance in many ways: handling, acceleration, liquid heated/cooled HVB, app access/functionality, crash test scores. Need I go on about how it’s better than the Leaf? The issue is just that Ford doesn’t want to sell the Focus Electric.

          • Otis11

            Well, there’s a chance I was misinformed, but all 3 dealers told me they weren’t sold here, even after I made it clear it was the only ford model I was even considering. And the Internet didn’t turn up any information to suggest they were wrong…

            …so I walked.

            Still in the market, but the range is an issue for me aND I don’t need the upgraded trim… price is more important.. but that’s me. And that’s assuming it really is comparable to the higher trim, which I hadn’t heard.

          • Brent Jatko

            Yeah, they need to make it a 50-state car IMO.

            Maybe battery supplies are the problem with scaling up production?

        • Carl Raymond S

          I’ll confess, I would not have bought an EV that had an identical looking petrol model. I don’t give a damn about what people who notice think of me, but I do want them to notice that EVs are on the road (and silently leaving them for dead at the traffic lights), so they start to consider clean-city-air peaceful-city options.

      • Carl Raymond S

        Agree – there’s a glaring omission in the announcement. Where is the 200 mile range vehicle to compete with 200 mile versions of Leaf, i3, Bolt, Model 3?

        Actually, I may have just worked it out myself. Tesla are the only company who can pre-emptively announce a 200 mile range affordable EV, without stalling sales their own current model shorter-range affordable EV (as they don’t have one).

        • Dragon

          Keep in mind that Model 3 is like the economy car version of a Tesla, so it doesn’t compete so much with the luxury model they already produce. Model 3 also isn’t going to get all that much more range than Model S.

          On the contrary, the LEAF with 107 mile range is pretty identical to the LEAF with 84 mile range other than the range, so it’s very enticing to keep waiting for more range.

  • youareme7

    Please please please bring something “sporty” to the table, so pumped for this.

  • sault

    They need to come out with an affordable 200-mile EV first and either get over themselves and adopt Chademo quick charging or license Tesla’s fast charging from Lord Elon. The battery technology is already here for this to happen. The problem is harnessing economies of scale and reducing transaction costs to make these vehicles a reality. $4.5B isn’t chump change, but going in 20 different directions and trying to come out with 13 cars means we might see more of the same boring stuff from Ford.

    • Jamset

      That is the question.

      Do they use ChaDeMo or Tesla Europe or Tesla USA?

      • sault

        And what’s so hard about everybody using the same plug? I don’t know much about Tesla’s plug (because as much as I’d want to buy one, I can’t afford it right now), but it looks like the SAE Combo is superior to Chademo since it doesn’t require 2 separate receptacles on the vehicle. Problem is, the US automakers who decided on SAE Combo dragged their feet on EVs so badly that Chademo is much more widespread in the USA currently. I don’t know how much cheaper one plug is vs 2 that is required with Chademo, but we really just need them to pick a standard or the government can do it for them.

        • TedKidd

          One is bigger than a fire hose and cumbersome as heck, the other is the size of a garden hose and as easy to manipulate.

          j1772 is clunky enough that I’d much prefer Tesla charging on my next car. CCS – no thanks!

          Plus, I have absolutely no confidence there will be a complete fast charge network outside of Tesla’s for at least 10 years. Lot’s of grand promises have been made, and not met.

          I will not have another range or charge constrained car. I’m ok with my car now because I don’t want to spend Tesla money on a car. With Bolt and m3 that changes, and I’ll never come back to living with these annoying constraints.

      • fiddler John

        Ford uses the SAE combo, CCS, FrankenPlug, J1772 standard with the big DC charge port just below the J1772.The new orange high voltage cap means fast DC charging.

        CharIN alliance with ABB is working on increasing DC fast charging power from the common 50 kW to about 150 kW or more.

    • Shiggity

      Tesla Motors is Apple. You still need a Samsung 😉

      • Bob_Wallace

        Tesla isn’t Apple.

        Apple worked hard to keep other companies from impinging on its business.
        Tesla has done just the opposite, opening up patents for all to use and offering any other company to use its charging system.

  • Marion Meads

    This is truly outstanding news! In contrast, the cheating VW only invested $100 Million into their EV program, and they’re still cheating by doing lip service that they are shifting their focus to EV in light of the scandal.

    • mike_dyke

      They’ve probably reserved the rest to pay the fines!

      • Nolan Thiessen

        If regulatory agencies really want change they’ll use the fines to fund green energy. I bet that instead of paying say $10B in fines to the EPA, VW would rather be told by the EPA that they must invest say $20B in developing electric cars and sell X number of EVs in the next Y years to offset the emissions from their diesel. Force the company to change instead of just paying for their sins.

        • Otis11

          Better yet, take the $20B in fines and allocate it to EV incentives… Don’t guarantee them their money back, make them fight for as much of it as they can earn.

          • Knetter

            Right! Guarantee their money back?! Who cares what VW would rather do, they already showed us what they’d rather do. They would rather line their pockets. Fine them to the full extent of the law, if VW wants to invest in electric cars let them decide to do that, or they could just be relegated to the back of the car selling bus, since no one is going to trust them without major changes.

    • JamesWimberley

      Wasn’t that one year’s investment? Ford’s $4.5 bn is for 5 years, so at most $900m a year, and it’s not yet detailed. It’s still more.

    • No way

      40% is kind of low considering the number of car manufacturers that will have (almost) all models electrified by then. But it’s good that they know that there is no other way to go.

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