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Ford to Invest $4.5 Bil in New Electrified Products

By 2020, 40% of its nameplates will be offered with battery-based options.

by on Dec.10, 2015

"More than 40% of our nameplates will be electrified," announced Ford CEO Mark Fields.

Ford Motor plans to invest $4.5 billion to add an array of new hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles to its line-up by the end of the decade, CEO Mark Fields announced on Thursday.

The maker plans not only to add more battery-based vehicles but also to expand where it will offer those models, with two new produced, the plug-in C-Max Energi and the Mondeo Hybrid, entering the Chinese market in the coming months.

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By the end of the decade, said Fields, “More than 40% of our nameplates will be electrified,” up from 13% today, and the list will include “a full range” of the maker’s products, not just a limited selection like today. Where there are six battery-based products today, Ford will add 13 more by 2020.

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Plunging Fuel Prices Could Create Problems for Ford, Says Product Chief

Maker intends to do “the right thing,” but must balance CAFE and consumer demands.

by on Dec.04, 2014

Ford's 2015 F-150 4x2 with Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine has EPA-estimated ratings of 22 mpg Combined.

With gasoline prices plummeting below $3 a gallon in much of the country – and with further cuts expected – American motorists are shifting gears. November’s booming sales numbers were given strong momentum by the resurgent demand for fuel-hungry pickups, SUVs vans and even muscle cars.

Ironically, that’s not entirely good news for automakers like Ford Motor Co. On the positive side, sales of the new 2015 Mustang nearly doubled over last year’s volume, and Ford has a massive backlog of orders for its new F-150 pickup, the most profitable model in its portfolio.

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But plunging pump prices also create some serious challenges, cautioned Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief.

“Certainly, low fuel prices make it hard to sell some vehicles like hybrids and electrics,” he said during a lunch at the Ford test track near the maker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Ford Latest to Cut EV Pricing as Battery-Car Market Struggles

Maker trims $6,000 from price tag of Focus Electric.

by on Oct.21, 2014

Ford has so far sold only 1,500 Focus Electric vehicles this year - less than 1% of total Focus sales.

With battery-car sales lagging expectations, automakers have been slashing prices in a bid to spur demand. The latest to announce a big discount is Ford Motor Co., which will trim the MSRP on its Focus Electric model by $6,000.

That’s on top of the $4,000 discount the Detroit maker took on the compact battery-electric vehicle a year ago. Originally introduced in January 2011 at $39,995, buyers now can plug in a Ford Focus Electric for just $29,995 – plus delivery charges and the usual fees and taxes.

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Ford is by no means alone. With rare exception, automakers have been cutting prices of both plug-in and pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, models in a bid to boost sluggish sales. And with gas prices now near or below $3 a gallon in much of the U.S., industry analysts suggest it will be even more difficult to convince buyers to opt for vehicles that plug in rather than tank up.

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Ford the Latest to Drop Battery Car Price

2014 Focus Electric base price dropped $4,000.

by on Jul.10, 2013

Ford has struggled to charge up consumer interest in its all-electric Focus Electric.

Ford Motor Co. becomes the latest automaker to slash pricing to try to boost sales of its slow-selling battery-car, the 2014 Focus Electric.

Sales of both battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and plug-in hybrids have generally lagged proponents’ expectations prompting makers to drop base prices or increase incentives in the hope of luring more consumers into showrooms.

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Among other makers who have cut prices in recent months are Nissan, Chevrolet and Honda. Meanwhile, Toyota is increasing marketing efforts to revive demand for the conventional Prius hybrid after an unexpected sales skid during the first half of the year.

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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.

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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.

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Consumers Fail to Plug into Electrics

A critical year for battery carmakers.

by on Jul.09, 2012

Slow to charge up buyers: the Ford Focus Electric.

There’s a growing supply but where’s the demand?  That’s the question industry officials are increasingly worried about as more and more battery cars enter a market that shows little sign of embracing them.

While sales of some models are up over year-ago levels, notably those of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, demand for others, such as the Nissan Leaf, have slipped year-over-year.  And still others, new to the market such as the Ford Focus Electric, are moving at such a slow pace they’re little more than rounding errors on the sales charts.

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Few now believe demand for plug-ins, in particular, will come near to meeting a target set by an Obama Administration that has strongly advocated alternative power – and backed it with billions of dollars in federal loans and grants to automakers and battery car manufacturers.

The President had forecast 1 million plug-ins would be on the road by 2015.  But “There is little evidence” that can happen, according to a new report by Pike Research, a Boulder, Colorado firm focusing on clean technologies such as battery power.

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Tesla Delivers First Production Model-S Weeks Ahead of Schedule

But maker’s big ambitions could run afoul of slow growth in U.S. battery-car market.

by on Jun.06, 2012

The first production Tesla Model-S.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson got an unexpected surprise this week when he was handed the keys to a new Tesla Model S – more than two weeks before the California electric vehicle maker had officially planned to begin retail deliveries of the new battery-powered sedan.

Tesla investor Jurvetson is tooling around in a maroon Model-S with the California license plate “TSLA S1.” While other buyers will have to wait until June 22, the battery-car start-up is hoping to have thousands of the new sedans on the road before year-end, with a second product, the Model-X crossover, set for launch in 2013.

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But will the market live up to expectations?  There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical, though demand for plug-in hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Volt, and battery-electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, are slowly gaining momentum.

“There are now approximately 30,000 plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads, four or five times as many as there were a year ago,” writes Tesla founder Elon Musk in his personal blog, adding that “We firmly expect that the electric-car sales rate will continues (to) rise, though it will be slow.”

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Honda Fit EV Gets Best-Ever 118 MPGe Rating

Limited roll-out scheduled for coming summer.

by on Jun.06, 2012

The 2013 Honda Fit EV wins the EPA's highest mileage-equivalency rating yet, at 118 MPGe.

The new Honda Fiat EV has landed a 118 MPGe federal fuel economy rating, the highest ever granted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scheduled to go into limited distribution over the summer the 2013 Fit EV is Honda’s first battery-electric vehicle in two decades and enters a fast-emerging market segment that will soon include offerings from most of the major automakers – as well as new start-ups like California’s Tesla Motors.

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The EPA’s Combined 118 MPGe rating shoots Honda past the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, at 112 MPGe, the Ford Focus Electric, at 105 MPGe, and the Nissan Leaf, rated at 99 MPGe.

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Are Battery Car Sales Coming Unplugged?

Sales slide would be worse without new models.

by on May.03, 2012

Were it not for the new Prius Plug-in the battery car market might have come completely unplugged.

Is the battery car market losing its juice?  While it’s too soon to tell if the latest surge in gas prices has hit its peak buyers already seem to be rethinking the cost-benefit equation when it comes to plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles.

Indeed, were it not for the arrival of some new models, notably the Toyota Prius plug-in, the battery-car market might look like it was in risk of coming completely unplugged.

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Total sales came to somewhere just north of 3,600, industry analysts estimate.  The precise figure is hard to determine as Ford is not yet releasing numbers for its new Focus Electric, nor are smaller makers like Fisker Automotive and Coda providing data.

For the four makers that are providing sales numbers, the total for April came to just over 3,500, compared with 3,800 in March.  That works out to barely 0.3% of the total new vehicle market in April.

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