At a Ford conference about a year ago, Charged asked CEO Mark Fields (and every other exec we could buttonhole) if the company had any plans for an answer to the 200-mile Bolt that GM had just announced. His coy answer of “nothing we can talk about” led willing minds to believe that there was something major in the works. Now it appears that there wasn’t, and still isn’t.
At the recent SAE World Congress, Kevin Layden, Ford’s Director of Electrification Programs and Engineering, dashed hopes of a 200-mile Ford EV, telling Automotive News that the 2017 Focus Electric’s 100-mile range (an incremental increase over the existing model’s 76 miles) should be plenty for most drivers. Sticking to a moderate range will help keep weight and cost down.
“I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population,” said Layden. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”
Ford is not standing still in regards to electrification. In December, it announced plans to invest $4.5 billion in electric tech, and to add 13 new electrified vehicles (including stop-start micro-hybrids) to its lineup by 2020. However, EVangelists will doubtless be disappointed that the company isn’t mounting a bold challenge to competitor GM and upstart Tesla.
So far at least, Tesla’s headline-grabbing Model 3 unveiling doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression in Dearborn. Asked for his reaction to the news, Mark Fields told The Verge that Tesla caters to a high-end consumer, whereas “[Ford’s] approach has been to give consumers the power of choice, whether plug-in hybrids or overall electrified vehicles.”
Source: Automotive News