• Mar 5, 2009
Click above for high-res gallery of the Ford Focus EV "mule"

Ford may have been relatively quiet on the electric vehicle front while General Motors got all the attention for its Chevy Volt series hybrid, but the Blue Oval has come roaring back in recent months. It was revealed in its viability plan submitted to Congress back in December that an electric commercial van would be launched just one year from now followed by an electric car the next year. According to CEO Alan Mulally, that's just the start. At a conference in California this week, Mulally declared, "In 10 years, 12 years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles." Mulally told the conference that internal combustion efficiency will also improve dramatically over the next decade, and more hybrids will join the lineup including a plug-in hybrid that will debut in 2012.

Ford is shifting a significant proportion of its truck building capacity to cars over the next two years and the company doesn't expect truck sales to recover to their previous record heights. While fuel prices are low now, they are expected to climb again as the economy recovers. The shifts to cars and more hybrid and electric vehicles will be necessary to meet both market demands created by those expected higher fuel prices and government mandates for higher fuel efficiency.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]


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  • 39 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      According to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, we'd better get used to the sound of a rumbling internal combustion engine churning away in our automobiles, ingesting dead dinos as they continue to be the dominate source of power for our automobiles for at least the next 15-20 years. The German automaker has big plans to invest in technologies to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, but most of the efficiency increases will come from refinements made to gasoline and diesel-burning powerplants.

      On past performance which CEO would you back?
      • 5 Years Ago
      And that just shows that even though Ford isn't in very good shape, it is way better than GM and Chrysler.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not only are electric cars the banner of gayness, they're also NOT THE ANSWER!

      • 5 Years Ago
      This could turn out to be a win-win for Ford - and even GM. As both reduce truck capacity and retool for cars, the economy improves, gas goes up, and demand for trucks and cars rebound simultaneously. The countries auto fleet is at the oldest age average ever, people will need new wheels sooner or later..
      • 5 Years Ago
      Get er dun!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now you are not addressing my argument. Physics doesn't lie. Electric motors are far superior to ICE, but electric cars are not practical if they use batteries. Only a fuel cell would work. Battery technology can not supply the energy needs of an automobile. Storing electric current is not practical, especially for the purpose of propulsion. Energy needs to be stored as a potential, not in a charged state. Electricity does not like to be stored. It takes up massive amounts of material and space, and it discharges with time and temperature. There are no major manufacturers designing any all-electric cars that have any type of serious range for the aforementioned reasons, not to mention the huge costs of lithium batteries. Hybrids do not have a range problem because they can draw from the gasoline tank. All electric hybrids coming to market rely on the gas tank to make them practical. Ask yourself why that is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Battery powered cars just aren't practical. Those ranges of 40-60 miles do not take into account accelerating from stop, they do not take into account use of the wipers, radio, air conditioning, headlights, instruments, power windows, ventilation fans, power seats, and they most certainly do not take into account the use of the heater. And in the northern climes, the heater alone would drain any battery of most of its power. Gasoline has 32 X the energy density of a lithium battery. And while much of the energy in gasoline is waste heat, batteries only have about 50% efficiency themselves.

      This is why batteries are best used where only intermittent, or very low power use is required.)

      You will not see all-electric cars on our roads as long as they are battery powered.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ya I forgot, batteries at 50% efficient? Where'd you get that from? Li-ion batteries charge at 99.9% efficiency - they stay cool while you charge. Under discharge, they heat up a bit, but you lose maybe 5% efficiency in the batteries, maybe 10% in the motor and controller depending on the type.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What if your car runs out of gas? It's the same principle. The only difference is the infrastructure - there are heckloads of gas stations nowadays. But even so, if you don't have one nearby, you are out of luck. At least with a battery powered vehicle you can charge it any place with a power outlet.

        And I call BS on your remark about energy efficiency. ICE's have 20% energy efficiency, electric cars are over 80% if I can remember well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That is so full of miss information. How could you possibly give a range estimate without considering the vehicle accelerating from a stop? Yes the harder you accelerate, the lower your range, but this is true of any vehicle. Accessories will reduce range, but all the ones you list other than AC and heating have a negligible impact on EV range. The heater is probably the biggest hit, because in an ICE vehicle, you're making use of waste heat, whereas in an EV there isn't much waste heat to speak of. So on a really cold day, yes you can reduce your range by 10-20%. AC has a similar impact.
        Electric vehicles are already on the road, and people are happily using them as we speak. London, UK already has about 1500 EVs on the road, and their a common sight on the roads every day. I think until we eventually establish a thorough fast-charging network (we already see EV prototypes with possible 10 minute charge times), not many people will own a pure EV as their only car, just for commuting purposes. However, a plug-in series hybrid like the Volt is effectively an EV for commuting purposes, but with all the capability to go on long trips or emergency trips on low charge, a perfect stepping stone technology while EVs and the support infrastructure develop.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I call BS on that one. ICE engines have 20% energy efficiency, while electric ones are over 80% if I can remember well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      $5 billion dollars is just a drop in the ocean of what it will cost to upgrade the electrical grid in the US. Not to mention the necessary upgrades to the great majority of homes in the US just to be able to recharge these electric cars. The biggest problem with wind and nuke plants, and to a lesser degree solar, is the distance that the production sites are from the end users (NIMBY). Most of the electricity they produce is lost in transmission. This doesn't even take into account the fact that a great deal of the hydroelectric dams in the US, especially in the NW, will never be re permitted due to ESA concerns. So coal power plants, and fossil fueled cars are going to be taxed out of existence (CO2 cap and trade), and the government is going to give solar and wind producers price guarantees that will greatly increase utility bills. Looks like the future is going to be really expensive. It's a good thing everyone has stable employment prospects.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it's a bit naive for people to thing we'll be able to survive on electric cars alone.

      Sure, people who go to work and come home to a house with a garage and have no outside life can live most days without ICEs as long as they are disciplined enough to remember to plug in every night. But what about the housewife who's too airheaded to remember to plug in? What about the 20 something year old that lives in an apartment and has a busy life outside of work? What about the salesman who does 100+ miles a day? What about the guy who's been relocated and travels frequently to visit his friends and family from where he's from? What about the couple or family that likes to take road trips on the weekends? What about the city dwellers that have street only parking where they never park in the same place twice?

      Electric cars will probably become a necessity as the greenies grab more power and the price of oil goes up but the reality of it is that the electric vehicle will either supplement our current ICE based fleet as a daily driver- with an ICE car as a backup or we will switch to plug in hybrids like the Volt that have the ability to recharge as their driving. This country's way too big for everyone to be able to go 40-60 miles a day, then have to wait to charge overnight or even in a few hours.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I doubt that 250 mile range comes without some kind of caveat, otherwise where are all the other manufacturers with their 250 mile range EVs? The maker of this magical battery would be the richest corporation alive.

        The big thing everyone forgets is the reason most things are screwed up today anyway........money.

        The charging won't happen for free and you'll need to be able to charge as quickly and convieniently as a gas station for people to buy into it fully. It'll take a long time to institute pay for your charge stations at every parking spot in America.

        The rumors of the ICE's death are greatly exagerated.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The range of all electrics goes beyond Volt's horrible 40-60 all electric range.
        If I can recall, BYD is launching an all-electric MPV this year (the e6) and it has a 250 mile range per full charge.

        I agree though that they are ready to be mainstream, but as soon they improve the range and fast-charging stations appear across the country, they will be. And that shouldn't take more than 10-15 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think the shift to smaller cars and high-efficiency is a great move by Ford. I think Mullaly is correct: gas prices will rise as soon as the economy recovers. Last summer was a taste of what is to be the norm once the recession is over. The automakers who heed that wisdom will do well.

      Climate change and peak oil deniers can rant all they want, but the artificially low prices now are low because demand is down. There is not miraculous supply to be found 'in them thar hills', and if we don't plan now, in the next boom prices will easily break records. China and India want to use more energy and this summer was just the start. Populations are growing across the globe and as people become more affluent, they use more energy, yet carbon-based energy is finite in the human time-scale.

      This makes me optimistic for Ford.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this just shows that Mullaly while overpaid (20+ Mill) is qualified and recognizes that in future will be green.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should have used the stimulus package to create a new power grid for all of these electric cars. Next we'll have to bail out the utilitiy companies. People will be complaining about their power bill next.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ tankdog, have you even tried running through some quick numbers to support your claim?? My last electricity bill was 2560 kWh over 64 days, or 40 kWh per day. 10kWh of charging will easily get you over 40 miles of driving. I know the Chevy Volt has a 16kWh pack, but that's cause they only use half the capacity, from 80% to 30%, such that they can guarantee a 10 year life-time on the pack. Reva G-Wiz for example, yeah it's a smaller car, but it gets 40 miles on a 6kWh pack, plus 2 or 3 kWh for charging inefficiency in lead-acid batteries. Li-ion charge much more efficiently though, so I stick by 10kWh from the wall=40 miles.

        Either way, your claim is way off the mark. I'm paying $0.08/kWh. If I drive electric, 40 miles/day, even if I don't get cheaper rates at night, I'm paying 2 cents a mile, and I've increased my electricity consumption by 25%. Than YOU for the good laugh.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Most electric cars will be recharged at night, when power usage is low anyways."

        I get a good laugh every time I read this. Which is just about every god damn day on ABG. If every other person was driving an electric car, residential energy usage at night would be more than double what they currently are in the day.

        I'll be damned if I'm going to pay 25 cents/kWh so a bunch of hippies can haul around a 1200 lb. battery pack and call it green.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most electric cars will be recharged at night, when power usage is low anyways. So chances are the impact on the grid will be minimal until and unless there are huge numbers of electric cars. That's not going to happen very quickly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As far as I know, a portion of the bill is for the new power grid.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They did:

        "The U.S. Department of Energy has 60 days to set up a competitive process to award an estimated $4.3 billion for projects that will upgrade the nation's electric grid. That's one of the top clean technology provisions of the $787 billion economic stimulus package President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday (Feb.. 17). "

        http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=214400150

        Obama knows what he is doing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @tankd0g

        For EVs to reach half of the car driving population, it'll take more than twenty years, to reach half of the total population, it'll take even longer. The next ten years is going to just be getting EVs into the market. Then it'll take a long while for adoption. There'll be plenty of capacity until then, especially overnight, when offices, malls, factories, etc are all offline. I imagine the power companies will want people to have smart chargers so the power companies can control the load as long as the car is charged before a time set by the user.

        The average US household uses up 12,000kWh a year, or 32.9kWh a day. Fully charging a 100-150 mile EV will take 16kWh-30kWh, which is most likely the range & capacity of the Focus EV. That's roughly half or the same as the daily consumption of energy, not double. And most likely people don't travel 100-150 miles every day, so it'll be lower.

        Given those figures it appears our grid is ready to handle quite a lot of BEVs even now and even more smaller capacity PHEVs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        and the cap and trade rules will hasten those increased power bills as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The question remains, does everyone really want to be driving electric cars? And are they as environmentally sound as their proponents think they are? I my self hope I am cold and dead long before electric cars are the only option the consumer has, if that is to be our future.
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