Four Billion Reasons to Believe Ford Takes the Environment Seriously
Ford dealers will be carrying a lot more environmentally-friendly vehicles between now and 2020, according the automaker’s most recent press release. In the face of the increased popularity of hybrid vehicles in recent years, along with a decrease in price to manufacture and new technological breakthroughs in battery technology, more and more of Ford’s vehicles are expected to go green.
Ford has indeed come around to the idea of electric vehicles, recently announcing that the company will be investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle technology. By 2020, plans are to introduce thirteen new models of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This planned increase in their lineup is expected to take the percentage of such vehicles offered by Ford from 13 percent (where it is currently stands) to 40 percent of their portfolio. Ford will also invest heavily in battery research.
Ford is said to be taking these steps as a response to increased regulatory pressure by US environmental agencies. Increasingly strict 2025 emission standards are to blame, according to Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader.com.
“We are going to see more and more companies invest in electrified vehicles. [Electrification] is a significant investment, but it’s the way the industry is moving forward.”
California’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandates and US federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) rules are the most likely culprits for this ongoing shift.
Ford’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Fields, expects that plug-in hybrids are going to be the fastest-growing type of electric vehicles. Ford plans to expand sales in the face of falling gas prices by educating consumers on the benefits of hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Plug-in hybrids have an often unexpectedly large range, since they are powered by both gasoline and electricity.
Ford has always been dedicated to electrified vehicles. It was the first American car manufacturer to introduce a hybrid vehicle over ten years ago with its first-generation Ford Escape. Since then, it has sold more hybrids than any other company, aside from competitor Toyota.
Nevertheless, this represents a new direction for the company. In a statement, Ford announced that this planned five-year rollout of electrified automobiles will be its largest yet. The company’s dedication to electric vehicles is only expected to increase in coming years. Even though gas prices remain at an unprecedented low, the ever-decreasing prices of batteries, motors, and power electronics will ensure that electrification is here to stay.
Speculation surrounding the not yet -unannounced new models is running rampant among car enthusiasts. New models are expected to be powered by either a plug-in hybrid electric system (PHEV) or completely by batteries (BEV).
It is rumored that a new model of Ford Fusion might make a 2017 appearance at an upcoming auto show in Detroit. Considering that it is available in two electrified varieties—a hybrid version and an Energi plug-in version—it is likely that these will comprise two of Ford’s new models.
More officially, Ford’s already announced that an updated Ford Focus will hit the market sometime in 2017. The Ford Focus EV is expected to be fully electric. In addition to having DC fast charging technology, it is expected to have a 100-mile driving range. This represents a 33 percent bump in range over its present 76-mile capacity.
Not all the new cars are expected to be sold in the United States. Like the Fusion, Europe’s forthcoming new version of the C-Max is also likely to come in hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid types. It is also expected to be released to the Chinese market soon, along with a Mondeo hybrid.
It’s already been established that Ford has been developing a direct competitor for the Toyota Prius. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will likely make an appearance on Ford’s list as well. Beyond that, Ford has options to introduce the new hybrid or even fully-electric versions of existing vehicles.
Moreover, it is possible that Ford will choose to include the brand new 2017 Lincoln MKZ hybrid in the mix. Arguably Ford could update the existing Ford Escape with the Fusion’s present hybrid powertrain as a response to Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid crossover. Or it could also find its way into the next-generation Ford Fiesta. Whatever option Ford chooses, Ford’s commitment to electric vehicles is pretty clear as it aims stay competitive in this emerging niche.