Ford has announced that it plans to introduce 13 new electrified vehicles over the next five years, including hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup and Mustang. The automaker will invest $700 million to equip its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan to produce autonomous and electric vehicles, part of a $4.5-billion investment in electrified vehicles by 2020.
It’s something of an about-face for a company that has shown little interest in hybrids or EVs in recent years (despite the fact that sales of its two plug-in hybrid models together are neck-and-neck with those of the Chevy Volt). In December, CEO Mark Fields implied that electrified vehicles weren’t in line with “market realities” (despite what some media outlets reported, he didn’t go so far as to say there was “zero interest”).
Here’s what Mr. Fields says now: “As more and more consumers around the world become interested in electrified vehicles, Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles, services and solutions that make people’s lives better. Our investments and expanding lineup reflect our view that global offerings of electrified vehicles will exceed gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years.”
Ford’s strategy is to electrify its most popular, high-volume models.
The new vehicles announced today include:
- An all-new fully electric small SUV with a range of at least 300 miles, coming by 2020
- A hybrid version of the best-selling F-150 pickup, available by 2020
- A hybrid version of the iconic Mustang that will deliver V8 power and even more low-end torque, also to debut in 2020
- A Transit Custom plug-in commercial van, to be available in Europe in 2019
- Two new pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles
More cool things are in the pipeline. Ford is testing a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes in several US cities, and is piloting wireless charging technology on company EVs. It is also joining with several European automakers to create an “ultra-fast” charging network that will offer thousands of charging points by 2020.