Ford Canada chief executive officer, David Mondragon, told a group of people attending a business luncheon at a Toronto-area hotel that electric vehicles (EVs) will account for the slimmest fraction of the market by 2020. Mondragon explains that consumers may opt for more fuel-efficient cars if gas prices creep up, but, he said, buyers will not embrace EVs unless either a dramatic shift in behavior occurs, or prices of battery-powered vehicles drop substantially.
As Ford prepares to start selling the Transit Connect Electric later this year and the Focus Electric in 2011, it has to thoroughly test the lithium ion battery systems used in these vehicles. To help accelerate the process, Ford has equipped all of its test vehicles and the battery packs being tested in the lab with wireless remote monitoring systems.
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford closed out the 2010 SAE World Congress with a reminder: "All the early cars were electric." Why do so few people remember that electric cars date back more than a hundred years? Ford suggested it's because, electric cars have "been around really for the past century or so, but they really haven't had mass market appeal." There's the answer: without mass market appeal, technologies will be forgotten.
Ford Motor Company's development of upcoming battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) has been, so far, an outside job. Electric versions of the Transit Connect and the Ford Focus were developed with the help of suppliers Azure Dynamics Inc. and Magna International Inc., but Ford has not ruled out producing future BEVs in-house. As Ford's director of electrification programs Sherif Marakby stated:
We heard from Ford CEO Alan Mulally yesterday about his company's overall work with the U.S. government on energy policy. He's not the only Ford representative at the show worth talking to at the Washington Auto Show, though, and we got to sit down with Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of global electrification, for an update on the company's plug-in vehicle projects.
Apparently, electric cars are for girls. For his new prime-time TV show, Jay Leno is going to pit celebrities against one another in his new Green Car Challenge segment and the first one in the driver's seat will be Drew Barrymore. Barrymore will get behind the wheel of a prototype Ford Focus EV this Friday. Following Barrymore's initial time trial, Leno will rope other stars into racing the sponsored Focus on a special track built outside the show's new studio once or twice a week.