Until recently, Ford has been sitting in the back of the class, watching the fancy shows put on by the new kids, wandering up at the end of the presentation to play with all the newfangled technologies and powertrains in competing vehicles. Then it dropped a tanker load of cash into Rivian, showed off its prototype electric F-series truck pulling a train, and even partnered with Volkswagen to use its MEB platform for a line of new electric vehicles for the European market. Even with all that, the world really had not seen much of the actual vehicles underpinning Ford’s Masterplan part one, deux or otherwise…until today.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford blasted onto the scene with a host of new vehicles for the European market that rolled in alongside new details about its plans for the electrification of its vehicle lineup.
The announcement represents a significant step forward for Ford, but underwhelms with significant caveats that Ford expects more than 50% of Ford passenger vehicle sales to be “electrified” by the end of 2022. Right up front in the announcement, Ford excludes its cash cow and the least efficient vehicles in the Ford stable, its F-series trucks.
At the end of 2018, Ford announced that it would be slashing sedans from its ranks, doubling down on the promise of overbuilt, oversized SUVs and trucks emblazoned with the blue Ford oval. While not surprising, the continued caveats from Ford dilute the potential of vehicle electrification at the American brand while exposing the reality of Ford’s latest, somewhat hollow announcement.
At the Frankfurt Auto Show, Ford introduced a new Puma EcoBoost hybrid, an Explorer plug-in hybrid, a Tourneo Custom plug-in hybrid, and an all new Kuga SUV that will come to market as a mild hybrid, standard hybrid, and plug-in hybrid variant. When it comes to emissions, here is the breakdown for each of Ford’s vehicles on display in Frankfurt:
- Ford Explorer Plug-In Hybrid CO2 emissions from 71 g/km, fuel-efficiency from 3.1 l/100 km
- Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid CO2 emissions from 26 g/km, fuel-efficiency from 1.2 l/100 km
- Ford Mondeo Hybrid wagon CO2 emissions from 99 g/km, fuel-efficiency from 4.3 l/100 km (with optional 17-inch alloy wheels)
- Ford Puma EcoBoost Hybrid CO2 emissions from 125 g/km, fuel-efficiency from 5.5 l/100 km
- Ford Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid CO2 emissions from 75 g/km, fuel-efficiency from 3.3 l/100 km
Apparently, Ford felt that throwing more variants of a hybrid powertrain was what the world needed if it were to continue consuming petrol at the same time as the electrification of everything. Maybe they know better than we do, but there isn’t a single flavor of hybrid on the market that can compete with a similarly spec’d fully electric vehicle when it comes to performance, torque, driving experience, total cost of ownership, and ease of refueling, to name a few differentiators.
For the uninitiated, a “mild hybrid” has no way to propel the vehicle forward with an electric motor, nor does it have the ability to regenerate power. They simply employ active measures that shut off the engine when coasting or stopped, with the ability to restart it efficiently. Said another way, these are simply mildly more efficient petrol engines. No hybridization of the powertrain involved, included, or otherwise brought to market in this variant.
Ford is also dipping a toe into the deeper waters when it comes to home EV charging with a new residential EVSE that will reduce the already truncated charging time of its plug-in vehicles a tad. Plug-in charging vehicle owners don’t worry about charging times at home. It’s a non-issue as damn near every plug-in hybrid vehicle can recharge fully from any wall outlet in the developed or undeveloped world.
Most of the newly announced vehicles are only for European customers, where regulators are increasingly mandating higher efficiency and/or zero emission vehicles in city centers. Ford is also slapping one of its ‘electrified’ powertrain options (mild hybrid, standard hybrid, plug in hybrid or fully electric) into every single passenger vehicle it makes, launching a total of 17 electrified vehicles in Europe by 2024, with 8 of those arriving in 2019.
“With electrification fast becoming the mainstream, we are substantially increasing the number of electrified models and powertrain options for our customers to choose from to suit their needs,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “By making it easier than ever to seamlessly shift into an electrified vehicle, we expect the majority of our passenger vehicle sales to be electrified by the end of 2022.”
To emphasize the renewed push, Ford brought a fully electrified lineup to Frankfurt. They’re all dismally boring, but hey, it looks good on paper in a board room in Detroit, so they have that going for them.
Ford has been teasing a new Mustang-inspired fully electric performance SUV for years now, which is slated to arrive next year with a range of 370 miles (600 kilometers) on the WLTP cycle. Of all the news coming from Ford, this is the one that is the most exciting as it will be the first that actually puts Ford’s electric vehicle chops to the test. Let’s hope it has a healthy dose of Rivian DNA in it and can live up to its sports car lineage.
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