Ford, Chasing Nissan and Chevy, Rolling Out Focus EV in San Diego, Other Key Markets
After investing roughly $1 billion to overhaul a Ford F150 truck factory in Wayne, MI, the Ford Motor Co. has begun to introduce a new generation of electric and hybrid electric automobiles in the United States.
Ford has targeted San Diego as a key beachhead for the initial commercial rollout of its all-electric car, following in the tire tracks of the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in, and others already working in this area with the regional utility, San Diego Gas & Electric.
With so much expected EV traffic, it can be hard to stand out from the rest of the pack, so Ford intends to differentiate itself in a couple of ways, according to Mike Tinskey, Ford’s manager of global vehicle electrification and infrastructure.
“What’s a little different, maybe, from some of the other approaches is that we are looking at our whole vehicle portfolio, our global vehicle platforms, and putting electrification where we think it makes sense,” Tinskey told me. “What that really means is that we’ll take a high-volume vehicle, like the Ford Focus, which is [being] offered in different power trains—gasoline and diesel—and we will also offer an electric version.”
In other words, Ford is making the Focus—a compact, or “C” class model—the centerpiece of its global strategy for electric cars. Tinskey says Ford already sells more than 2.6 million versions of the Focus around the world, enabling the company to use its existing economies of scale to greatest advantage. The company plans to produce five all-electric or hybrid-electric vehicles in its North American market by 2012 and European markets by 2013.
“We expect San Diego to be one of our key markets from multiple standpoints,” Tinskey says. “Historically, San Diego has been one of the top markets for hybrid EVs.” One reason: San Diego’s mild climate is not as taxing on EV batteries as colder climates. “It’s just the way the utility and municipalities out there are embracing electric vehicles,” Tinskey says. “San Diego Gas & Electric has put some pretty innovative programs in place there to support electrification.”
In addition to San Diego, Ford is planning initial launches of its electric lineup in 18 other U.S. cities, including all the cities where Xconomy covers innovation— Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle.
Ford introduced its all-electric Transit Connect light commercial delivery vehicle, which has about an 80-mile range, in the U.S. about five months ago, Tinskey said. The company plans to … Next Page »