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Ford Offers Competitors Access to EV Patents

Detroit maker hiring 200 new engineers for battery-car efforts.

by on May.28, 2015

Ford's C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid is one of the maker's six electrified vehicles.

Ford is opening up its portfolio of patents and offering competitors access to those covering electric vehicle technologies. Just last year, Ford filed for 2,000 patents in the U.S., of which 400, or more than 20%, were related to EVs.

The move comes a year after CEO Elon Musk offered access to the patent portfolio of battery-carmaker Tesla Motors. Unlike the California start-up, Ford isn’t providing its intellectual property rights for free. But Ford’s move isn’t simply to get the licensing fees.

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“Innovation is our goal,” explained Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs, in a news release. “The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.”


Ford Using Sun to Power Solar Energi

C-Max concept charges batter using special panels on roof.

by on Jan.02, 2014

Ford's C-Max Solar Energi Concept will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.

Automakers are struggling to find ways to make it cheaper and easier to recharge electric vehicles and Ford plans to show off one possible alternative that replaces the plug with the sun.

The Detroit maker plans to reveal a concept version of its current plug-in hybrid, the C-Max, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that uses a solar panel on its roof to recharge the battery.

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Called the C-Max Solar Energi, it can collect a day’s worth of sunlight and get the same charge as the current C-Max Energi gets when plugged into the wall –albeit needing a full day’s strong sun to generate what you could get from a wall plug in four hours. Ford believes that this type of charging could account for 75% of all driving car owners currently do during a typical day. (more…)

Ford To Quadruple Sales Outlets for Battery Cars

Maker hopes to charge up sluggish sales.

by on Feb.06, 2013

Ford's C-Max Energi plug-in.

Call it Supply-and-Demand 101. Ford Motor Co. is betting it can sell more battery cars if it has more places where potential customers can find them.

The Detroit maker plans to more than quadruple the number of outlets for its plug-based vehicles in the months ahead in an effort to boost demand. Ford ended 2012 with just 200 dealers certified to carry the three battery models, the Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi. It expected to have 900 turned on by spring.

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That will not only increase the raw number of dealers but also expand their footprint beyond initial launch markets like New York and California.

“The newest approach is based on a key market coverage strategy to ensure we have good representation on a national basis to meet customer demand,” said Ford Field Operations Manager Paul Russell.


Ford Gaining Traction in Hybrid, Electric Market.

Maker claims it’s chipping away at arch-rival Toyota.

by on Feb.01, 2013

Ford is offering both a conventional hybrid and a plug-in version of its new C-Max people mover line.

With a significant surge in recent months as it rolls out new product, Ford Motor Co. is betting it has begun to close the gap with the long-time leader in the hybrid market, Toyota Motor Co.

Ford is reporting a more than threefold increase in sales of its various gas-electric offerings for January, following strong gains during the latter months of 2012. Some of that has come from updated offerings like the latest-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid, but the maker is also claiming preliminary success with the all-new C-Max, a dedicated line of hybrid people-movers directly targeting Toyota’s familiar Prius “family.”

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Even so, few expect Toyota to readily relinquish its lead. And analysts caution that Ford’s aggressive push into battery power hasn’t been without its problems.

“We’re bringing new hybrid buyers into the market, many of whom wouldn’t be considered traditional hybrid buyers,” said Amy Marentic, Ford’s marketing manager for small and medium Cars, a list that includes a number of the maker’s new gas-electric models.


GE Set to Buy 2,000 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-Ins

Largest-ever purchase of battery vehicles.

by on Nov.20, 2012

Ford will officially introduce the new C-Max Energi plug-in at the LA Auto Show.

General Electric plans to purchase 2,000 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids in what is described as the largest-ever plug-in electrified vehicle fleet sale.

The move is part of GE’s commitment to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. The maker has also said it will purchase Chevrolet Volt plug-ins as part of that switch the battery power and other cleaner technologies.

“At GE, we are focused on providing our customers and our fleet with more economically and environmentally efficient vehicles,” Mark Vachon, vice president of ecomagination, said. “The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a great addition to our expanding fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.”

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Ford claims the C-MAX Energi is America’s most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid with a 108 MPGe city rating from the Environmental Protection Agency and a 620-mile single-tank range. That apparently appealed to GE since the vehicles will be used by the giant conglomerate’s sales and service professionals – many who drive more mileage daily than average commuters.


Ford C-Max Energi Gets 108 MPG Rating – But Will Buyers Notice?

Ford hopes higher mileage numbers will carve into Toyota's battery-car dominance.

by on Oct.12, 2012

Ford gets a critical endorsement from the EPA that could help it target the Toyota hybrid family.

Ford has been taking aggressive aim at Toyota this year and borrowing a page from the Japanese giant’s playbook in the process, focusing not only on new battery-powered models like the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max but also by bragging that some of Ford’s newest offerings deliver better mileage than the Toyota alternatives?

The latest salvo follows the EPA’s official assessment of the Ford C-Max Energi, the plug-in version of the new “people mover.” Despite being the size of the larger Prius V, the EPA has rated the C-Max Energi at 108 miles per gallon in city driving and 100 in the highway and combined measurements.  That’s 5 mpg better than the smaller Toyota Prius Plug-in, a version of the original member of the new Prius “family.”

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But will potential buyers care?

So far, Ford has had only modest success in the battery-electric market.  While Toyota currently produces about half of all battery-based models sold in the U.S., Ford’s market share has slipped by more than half over the last year to barely 4%.


New Ads Position Ford C-Max as Prius Alternative

Ford takes on the 800-lb gorilla of the hybrid world.

by on Oct.04, 2012

Ford wants to go head-to-head with the Toyota Prius in new ad campaign.

Expect to see a lot about C-Max.  That’s the Ford C-Max, to be more precise, the maker’s all-new people-mover and the first domestic hybrid that lifts a page from the Toyota Prius handbook by adopting a unique body style that won’t be shared with a standard gas powertrain.

Like the ever-popular Prius, meanwhile, Ford will offer both a “conventional” hybrid model as well as a plug-in version dubbed the Ford C-Max Energi.  The maker will produce them at an upgraded plant in suburban Detroit alongside the new battery-electric version of the compact Focus.

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Ford has been one of the most aggressive makers in challenging Toyota’s persistent lead in the hybrid segment but – like Honda which actually launched the first hybrid in the U.S. market, the original Insight – Ford has so far been unable to crack Toyota’s lead. The Prius currently accounts for more than half of all U.S. gas-electric vehicle sales, a lead that has grown with the creation of a so-called “Prius family” of hybrids.


First Drive: 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

Finally, a real challenger to Prius?

by on Aug.28, 2012

Ford hopes the distinctively designed C-Max Hybrid can challenge the dominance of the Toyota Prius.

Toyota has ruled the hybrid segment since the original Prius rolled onto the U.S. market a dozen years ago — and up until now Ford Motor Co. has trailed a distant second with its well-regarded Escape Hybrid.

But Ford is changing gears, having retired the gas-electric version of the Escape in favor of a new version of the updated crossover now powered by the maker’s well-received EcoBoost drivetrain. That doesn’t mean Ford is walking away from the battery-car market.  Far from it.  If anything, it is rolling out an assortment of hybrids and even more advanced vehicles that, it hopes, will gives the Detroit maker a chance to challenge Toyota’s perceived leadership in green automotive technology.

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Key to Ford’s bid to reduce Toyota’s dominance is the 2013 C-MAX hybrid, which comes with a five-door body style popular in Europe — and a completely new hybrid powertrain under the hood.  The C-Max is being positioned as a direct challenge to Prius and will be Ford’s first model line offered only with hybrid or plug-in hybrid power.


Ford Amps Up Investment in Electric Vehicles

Maker targets more battery vehicles at a lower cost.

by on Aug.16, 2012

Ford plans to rapidly increase the number of battery vehicles in its line-up and boost production capacity while also driving down costs.

Ford Motor Co., despite the feeble growth of sales of hybrids and electric vehicles, has no intention of backing off its ambitious plans to build more electric vehicles.  Instead, the automaker has announced plans to invest another $135 million to design, engineer and test future battery-based vehicles.

Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering, said the investment will include hiring more engineers to work on electric vehicle projects alongside the 1,000 experts it already has working on EV projects at its engineering campus in Dearborn at what the company is now calling the Advanced Electrification Center. Ford continues to build its electrified team having hired 60 engineers in the past year with plans to fill more positions in the next few months.

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While the price of gasoline continues to fluctuate, the long-term trend in fuel prices is upwards and consumers around the world are demanding greater fuel efficiency, Bakaj said. “Sixty percent of our customers say they would consider a hybrid if the price was equal to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine,” he said.


Ford Claims New C-Max Tops Prius V Mileage

Battle of the hybrid people-movers.

by on Jul.09, 2012

The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid models.

Hoping to build demand for a new generation of dedicated battery cars, Ford says it expects its new C-Max hybrid to deliver about 3 miles per gallon better fuel economy than the similarly sized Toyota Prius V.

Tackling the Prius powerhouse is something a number of makers have so far tried – and failed to achieve.  The original Toyota hatchback has been the world’s best-selling hybrid and now the Japanese maker is trying to ride its own coattails with an assortment of other hybrids also sharing the Prius name.

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The largest of the offerings, the microvan-sized Prius V, has been gaining ground on the sales charts thanks to a mix of strong mileage – at 44 mpg in the EPA’S City cycle – and added room.

Ford plans to play it by the numbers, pitching the new C-Max as offering better mileage, more room, more power – and a lower price.