There are two schools of thought when it comes to building electric vehicles. There are those that choose to retrofit an existing base and those that believe in building from the ground up. Ford falls under the former by using the bones of the Focus to create its electric vehicle. Not surprisingly, the biggest reason is money.

According to IHS Automotive Consulting managing director Paul Haelterman, developing a new vehicle architecture will cost about $1 billion, which is quite substantial when EVs are expected to take a mere 1.5-2% of the market share this decade. By using the existing Focus as the base, Ford gets more use out of its Michigan Assembly Plant and can produce its ICE Focus alongside the electric Focus, easily adjusting production of each version based on current demand.

On the other side of the fence we have Tesla, which argues that going the route of Ford leaves no choice but to place the battery pack in the trunk like, per Elon Musk, "a sack of potatoes." By starting from scratch, as Tesla has done for its Model S, Tesla has designed a flat battery pack that goes at the bottom of the car, which results in a lower center of gravity, improved handling, and better aerodynamics on the underbody. Also, with the battery pack not being housed in the trunk, Tesla has instead used the space to make the Model S a seven-seater.

Haelterman says to retrofit – for now – in order to be profitable. Then, in the future, when battery pack prices have come down and gasoline prices rise, causing an increase in demand for EVs, automakers can invest in designing an EV from the ground up. Do you agree?

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

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