Flip The Story On Ford’s Long-Range Electric Car Plans

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We just published a story about statement from Kevin Layden, director of electrification programs and engineering for Ford, that seemed to indicate Ford had no real long-range electric car plans.

“I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population,” said Layden. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”

Naturally, EV bloggers and our readers were quite critical of Ford and plenty of jokes and mocking ensued.

Mark Fields FordA few days later, Ford CEO Mark Fields gave us quite a different story on Ford’s 1st-quarter financials conference call yesterday. Via Automotive News (h/t Autoblog):

Fields, asked whether the automaker intended to offer a battery-electric vehicle with a 200-mile range, said Ford wants to be “among the leaders or in a leadership position” as more automakers introduce long-range battery-powered cars.

“Clearly that’s something we’re developing for,” Fields said

With $4.5 billion pumping into the EV arena, this is really not surprising. It seemed like Ford had to be working on a long-range electric car (and, hopefully, superfast charging). But it makes Layden’s statements a few days ago (… or the media’s interpretation of them) a bit confusing. My thinking is this:

  • Layden was asked about the Ford Focus Electric and decided to stick very narrowly to that subject. And we all took that to mean they didn’t have any real all-electric car plans for the coming years.
  • Ford wasn’t eager to talk about a long-range electric car built electric from the ground up (assuming that’s what it’s working on) because it didn’t want to kill sales of its current electric models (the Focus Electric and plug-in hybrid Energi models) — though, sales of the Focus Electric are slim anyway and the Energi models seem to serve a different category of buyers, for the most part.
  • Ford is quite a bit behind GM/Chevrolet and Tesla — and probably also Nissan and BMW — on the long-range electric car front, so it’s not keen to bring up the topic unless pushed.

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In any case, the good news is that Ford seems to be on the long-range electric car bandwagon as well. How far along and how well it is doing in the development “for” a long-range EV is unclear, and I’ll leave you with full prerogative to be skeptical and critical of Ford’s efforts … until we hear/see/drive something solid from Ford Motor Company.

In the meantime, here are some tips for Ford:

  • include super-fast charging (not just “fast” charging) …  and assuming you aren’t building out a real network for that (we’ve seen zero sign of anyone other than Tesla doing that), just suck it up and partner with Tesla on this.
  • include over-the-air updates that will improve the car for owners over time, and allow quicker/easier service and even recalls.
  • get serious about autonomous driving features.

These are all things we learned buyers hugely value, as shown in our Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want report.

And regarding the Focus Electric, I’m actually excited to hear that it will be “really affordable and a step up from where we are now.” As I’ve stated several times, there’s a huge market for low-cost electrics that can be used without problem as 2nd/commuter cars, or by people who really don’t drive long distances. Whether the next-gen Focus Electric will compete well enough with the Nissan LEAF on the cost front and in terms of practicality, we’ll have to wait to see, but it seems that’s Ford’s aim.

Related: Ford Bought The 64th Tesla Model X Delivered; Paid $200,000 + Tax For It

Images via Ford Motor Company

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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