It looks like Ford is jumping onto the long-range, electric-vehicle bandwagon. In response to a question about building a 200-mile EV during the company's first-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Fields let it be known that they are "developing for" such a vehicle, and that they want to be "among the leaders or in a leadership position." That's certainly news to us.

When it comes to electric vehicles, Ford certainly hasn't exactly been at the vanguard. Sure, it offers a couple of products with a plug – the Fusion and C-Max, both with a feeble 20 miles of battery-powered range – under the Energi moniker. And, though you may be unaware since it only began advertising for it (outside of California) late last year, it's offered up an all-electric version of the Focus in a number of markets since late 2012. What do Ford's lackluster EV efforts get it? The first three months of this year saw it sell only 257 Focus EV units.

My, how times change.

That particular vehicle's development trajectory, though, really puts this pronouncement by Fields into perspective. Just two weeks ago at the SAE World Congress, where we learned its only EV model would receive a battery boost to extend the range from the current 76 miles to 100 miles, Ford's director of electrified powertrain engineering, Kevin Layden, made it sound as though the company was quite satisfied that 100 miles was an optimum blend of range, weight, and cost. My, how times change.

While no doubt the funding for this new long-range effort will come from the recently-announced $4.5 billion investment into electrification, other details about the program are scarce. Automotive News purports the new vehicle could borrow back Ford's early naming convention from Tesla and call it the Model E, a name the California automaker had intended to call its own upcoming $35,000 vehicle, then abandoned. It also suggests it would be built at a new plant in Mexico as early as 2019.

Since it has, in the past, relied on vendors for much of its electric tech – the Focus EV drivetrain was developed by Magna, while the electric bits for the now-discontinued Transit Connect EV came courtesy of (the now defunct) Azure Dynamics – it's clear the Detroit automaker has a long road ahead. When it does comes to showrooms, it will be jostling for market share with the likes of the Tesla Model 3, the Chevy Bolt, and the Nissan Leaf, among others.

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