At a technology briefing held today at Ford's Advance Engineering Center in Dearborn, MI, company representatives gave a sneak peak at the automaker's green plans. The lineup includes official introduction plans for both a battery electric vehicle and Ford's first plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
The PHEV will arrive in 2011 and Ford has said it will debut in a C-Class (compact) platform. While rumors have suggested this could be a new Lincoln model, Sue Cischke, Ford Group VP for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, all but laid those to rest by commenting that in order to keep costs low, the different powertrain options will be rolled out using the same platform. In other words… look for a Focus plug-in hybrid in 2011.
Ford has decided to go the same route as Toyota when it comes to plug-in hybrid technology, having their plug-in hybrid operate in essentially the same way as a conventional hybrid with a mixture of gasoline and electric power used to move the car. This is different from the formula used by Chevy and the upcoming Volt, which uses gasoline to power the electric motor, which powers the car. Ford didn't discuss pricing, but did say that their system allows for a much smaller battery. As a result, the battery will be much less expensive, meaning the Ford PHEV, is likely to cost significantly less than the Volt's targeted $40,000 price point. The Ford PHEV will use a lithium-ion unit.
As for the battery electric vehicle (BEV), it will be just that… a vehicle, a not a car. While an electric Focus is due in 2011, next year Ford will debut an electric version of its new Transit Connect utility truck. Ford representatives acknowledged the problems of launching BEV's on a large scale and Cischke did say that BEV's would need the help of government incentives in order to break into the marketplace. Another major problem in getting electric cars into the marketplace is that electric stations need to be created, and while cost certainly is an issue, the larger problem is that Ford's aroach to the U.S. market is national, while electricity providers are regional.
Ford is expected to debut the all new Focus at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January and we expect to hear more about the introduction of its first plug-in hybrid then or shortly thereafter. AutoGuide's Detroit Auto Show coverage begins January 11th.
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