Ford will make the Transit Connect its first Battery-Electric Vehicle.
Once you ignore any mention of bankruptcy, the year’s big buzzword, in automotive circles, is “electrification.” According to industry experts, virtually every new vehicle will use at least some form of battery power in its drivetrain by the end of the next decade, even if its just a basic Stop/Start system, or the sort of battery regeneration showing up on numerous European models, such as the new Audi A5 Cabriolet.
Yet, according to some, plug-ins and pure Battery-Electric Vehicles, or BEVs, could make up a significant portion of the future fleet. And one of those someones is Ford CEO Alan Mulally, at least if you hear what the former Boeing executive had to say during the recent Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, California.
“In ten years, twelve years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles,” said Mulally. He noted that gasoline power isn’t going away, stressing his belief that, in the coming years, “we’ll have a significant improvement in the fuel efficiency in the internal combustion engine.” But while Mulally forecast, “You’ll see more hybrids…you will really see a lot more electric vehicles.”
Ford, you may recall, was the first American automaker to come up with a true hybrid-electric vehicle and, indeed, its Escape Hybrid was the world’s first HEV truck. This year, the automaker is doubling its line-up of gasoline-electric models, and the new Fusion Hybrid has the – well-publicized – advantage of delivering a full 4 mpg more than the similarly-sized Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Stung by the media success that is the Chevrolet Volt, Ford has been moving aggressively to make up lost ground — especially on the green PR front – and promises to have an assortment of both plug-in hybrids and BEVs ready for market by the beginning of the coming decade. The carmaker has been vague with details, though it confirmed, during a Chicago Auto Show press conference, last month, that the first battery car will actually be a battery-powered truck, a version of its new TransitConnect commercial van, which will debut in 2010. A plug-in is expected the following year.