Following the introduction of a barrage of new vehicles like the C-Max Energi and C-Max Hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show today, Ford Motor Company executive chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., spent some time talking to reporters about his company's electrification program (and other, minor things, like jobs and huge expansion in Asia). The takeaway point was that this is the age of the electric vehicles. The technology is ready, he said, but public acceptance depends on the cost of gas and the availability of charging stations. This is one reason, he said, why the U.S. needs a comprehensive energy policy. Ford is ready – because the company has based its strategy on the prediction that the cost of gas will continue to go up.

Before we get to this, though, let's talk about the press conference, which was heavily focused on the company's global reach. The press conference was unsurprisingly full of good news, including Ford's plan new vehicles – 50 new vehicles and powertrains in Asia Pacific and Africa by 2015 alone – and 7,000 new jobs for American workers through 2012.

The presentation included a recorded video bit from Ed Begley, Jr., who – we hereby predict – will never work for Nissan. "If someone were to ask me where to look for an electric vehicle, I'd tell them 'Ford.' Yup, Ford," he said. Later in the video, he highlighted the C-Max Energi's comparatively quick recharge time (just three hours) and said, "I could mention cars that take twice that long to charge, but I'll 'leaf' that alone." Members of the audience groaned – some laughed – but the message was very, very clear.

Ford's comments on the plug-in future can be found after the jump.

ford focus c-max detroit auto show

Even though Azure Dynamics played a big role in getting the Transit Connect Electric ready for market, Ford said that his company will not rely only on suppliers as it moves further into the electrification space:
We are going to have in-house expertise in electric capability, and that's very important to us. However, just like when we deal with companies that make axles or other components, we will certainly rely upon suppliers to come to us with innovation and that's really no different than any other supply relationship that we have. The in-house capability of Ford in electric vehicles is something that we think is very important and that we are building.
He also said that the way Ford is introducing electric drive to its vehicles is the right way for the company to be profitable with plug-ins. "Certainly on the C-car platform we'll make money, but any new technology, as you know, is expensive," he said. "As volume ramps up costs will come down. One of the things we've done by electrifying a C-Car platform, it allows us to spread that cost over much more volume and it allows us to make money sooner than perhaps other people who haven't done that." Ford didn't want to predict any specific battery cost decrease, but he did say:
If you just look at other technologies, the way they've been developed, it should come down as volume starts to ramp up and familiarity with the technology starts to get better. We do expect [battery costs] to come down and we're working very closely with the suppliers in that regard.
You can listen to Bill Ford's wide-ranging interview in the audio clip below.

Share This Photo X