Ford, Chasing Nissan and Chevy, Rolling Out Focus EV in San Diego, Other Key Markets
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roll out its all-electric Focus in the U.S. during second half of this year and in Europe next year. Two next-generation hybrid electric vehicles and a plug-in hybrid electric are set to follow in the U.S. and Canada in 2012 and Europe in 2013.
To Ford’s Tinskey, a key innovation involves the way Ford has re-tooled its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI. “When that Focus is being built at the assembly plant, the gasoline version is running on the same production line as the electric version,” Tinskey says. So a dozen gasoline-powered cars might follow a dozen battery-powered cars on the same assembly line. “That gives us the flexibility so we can tool up a single line and produce multiple variants of the Focus on that line.”
Tinskey says Ford plans to produce the bulk of its C-sized vehicles and the majority of its electric vehicles for the U.S. and Canada at the Wayne plant. “It has the largest solar array in the state of Michigan installed on its rooftop,” Tinskey says. “Most of the equipment that moves all of the parts and vehicles around the plant will be all-electric as well. So it’s a bit of a showcase for the company.”
Ford plans to introduce the same concept in Europe, where Ford also makes a diesel-powered version of the Focus. Tinskey says the all-electric Focus will be manufactured in Spain, although development is several months behind the U.S., and the company has not yet announced where in Spain it plans to make its C series vehicles. “But they will be producing the same vehicles, and they’ll use the same content when they build the Focus electric, gasoline, and also the diesel.”
By using the Focus as a “technology platform,” Tinskey says Ford can keep its costs as low as possible for the all-electric Focus, because all the parts and components except the electric drive-train are standard for other versions of the Focus.
“The real key to getting these technologies adopted is price, or cost,” Tinskey says. “We think this is one way we can get there. Some of our competitors take a different approach, where they’re doing dedicated lines for their electrified products. So it’s really a different strategy. We think it offers just what we’re looking for, which is the ability to leverage our global scale and give us the flexibility we want.”
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