Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Autonomous Vehicles

Ouch, Ford Doesn’t Believe Electric Cars Are Good Enough For Autonomous Driving

Ford is a different kind of carmaker. Part of the Big Three, it sometimes looks content to be away from the GM and Chrysler fight and sometimes surprises us with innovations. Although it gave us a great little electric vehicle (EV) and pushed its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Energi platform seriously for a few years, the recent auto event shows the company’s still focused on gasoline engines, SUVs, and pickup.

Electric Cars Are Good Enough For Autonomous DrivingFord is a different kind of carmaker. Part of the Big Three, it sometimes looks content to be away from the GM and Chrysler fight and sometimes surprises us with innovations.

Although it gave us a great little electric vehicle (EV) and pushed its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Energi platform seriously for a few years, the recent auto event shows the company’s still focused on gasoline engines, SUVs, and pickup.

Is Ford Dropping The Ball With Non-Electric Self-Driving Cars?

Ford pushed its electrification work moderately for roughly 5 years. It entertained a frenetic media and blogosphere for some time, and then — poof, nothing. The Ford Focus Electric has since then gone through the obligatory facelift, but its range hasn’t changed much. The Fusion and C-Max, both on the Hybrid and Energi platform, have also somewhat been left to the wayside. Going to auto shows, Ford proudly displays its SUVs and pickups and doesn’t mention is “Power of Choice” anymore. Remember that Power of Choice that promised us one car, many drivetrains?

So, when I read on Automotive News that the company is testing autonomous vehicles that will be new hybrids in 2021, I couldn’t help but wonder. After all, most are working on electric self-driving cars and are betting on an electric future. So why not Ford?

Electric Cars Are Good Enough For Autonomous Driving

The answer is in the details. Of course, anyone is allowed to have an opinion, but when that opinion differs so much from other carmakers, we can only wonder why. According to Ford’s Jim Farley, President of Global Markets: “Picking a hybrid over an EV will allow it to stay on the road longer without charging, he said, and designing a new vehicle to be autonomous instead of converting an existing nameplate, as GM has done with the Bolt, should better serve commercial businesses.”

Indeed, in many ways, Ford has shown more interest in PHEVs and hybrids than its local rivals. Although the strategy is in stark opposition to GM, which plans to have more and more EVs on the road, Ford decided to keep a PHEV platform since it means a longer potential time on the road. That is a fair assessment of today’s technology.

But Farley defends Ford’s point of view by saying that, although companies are choosing to go the electric route, Ford estimates that it’s important to verify the business model and that it would have to be executed well. We can’t disagree on that point. However, Farley stumps us when he adds: “It won’t focus as much on miles driven, Farley said, as it will on the customer experience.”

What he seems to be alluding to here is that GM is focused on ridesharing in a normal automobile framework with Lyft while Ford wants to focus on a somehow improved personal car experience. But it’s the electric drivetrain that offers a smoother, quieter, more peaceful experience. …

One of the healthier things an industry can do is to diversify and tackle new technologies in various ways. But is Ford right in believing that this alternative, seemingly more conservative vision is a better long-term business plan? Most indication seems to point to electric autonomous vehicles. This could potentially leave Ford at a disadvantage as less and fewer millennials feel a need to buy cars when they can hail a ride.

Electric Cars Are Good Enough For Autonomous Driving

In 2012, we asked many executives how they would tackle the millennials’ lack of desire, and finance, to buy new cars. One executive enthusiastically believed that when they would have babies, they would want to buy cars. History needs to prove them right or wrong. Will they go down this path for too long and get left in the dust? Or are other companies jumping the gun?

Ford Bets On Long Hour Strategy With Autonomous Cars

Ford’s bet is audacious. The company wants its vehicles to be on the road for roughly 20 hours a day. Farley believes EVs can’t do that yet and that it would thus make little business sense to go electric.

To be fair, Ford is planning an electric crossover with a 300-mile range that will be built in Mexico. It is also going gung-ho with EVs in China (where that’s required) and making sure this administration knows about it.

We welcome various strategies in the uncertain autonomous car market that’s emerging, but we still believe that 2021, which is four years away, will bring enough range and good enough battery chemistry for autonomous electric vehicles.

Electric Cars Are Good Enough For Autonomous Driving

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

Comments

You May Also Like

Batteries

Normally, it’s us EV enthusiasts and EV media who have to debunk all of the FUD. “The grid can’t handle EVs!” they say. “Batteries...

Clean Transport

At present, Ford’s E-Transit offered in the United States comes with a limited range of only 126 miles. That’s actually enough for most businesses...

Autonomous Vehicles

The race to autonomous vehicles seems to mean different things to different manufacturers, and even to different divisons/companies within an organization. Tesla seeks to...

Clean Transport

I’ve written quite a few articles on here about electric RVing. Why? Because gas-powered RVing is EXPENSIVE. This is especially true for the gas...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.