Ford accelerates EV transition with $4.5bn investment

Ford is ploughing $4.5bn into electric vehicle (EV) solutions and extensions through to 2020, in an enhanced investment programme that will see 13 new EV models added to the US carmaker's portfolio.

The investment – Ford’s largest ever over a five-year period – will see more than 40% of the company’s global new number plates attached to EV cars. It forms part of Ford’s production shift; to focus on customer experience, rather than just the vehicle itself.

“The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle, but who best organises that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president of product development and chief technical officer at Ford Motor Company.

“By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward.”

Ford’s new Focus Electric – one of the 13 new models – will deliver an 80% battery charge in around 30 minutes with a projected 100-mile range, while still being two hours faster than the current Focus Electric over that distance.

Set for production late next year, the Focus Electric offers an ‘EcoGuide’ display which creates real-time power usage visuals for the driver, to help maximise driving efficiency. A smoother breaking system and agile steering also maximise energy captured during a drive.

Ford has also announced it is expanding its EV R&D programme across Europe and Asia, to create a “hub and spoke” system that will accelerate battery technology.

Kevin Layden, director of Ford’s electrification program, said: “Batteries are the life force of any electric vehicle, and we have been committed to growing our leadership in battery research and development for more than 15 years.”

Changing gears

Ford continues to deliver sustainable savings. Earlier this year, the company announced that its European factories will have cut energy consumption by 25% in 2016 compared with 2011, saving around 800GWh a year.

The company has also recently developed an innovative recycling technique that can cut operational emissions by 50%.

This sustainability drive is one that has been mirrored throughout the automotive industry.

General Motors recently announced that its Arlington Assembly plant will soon be able to build up to 125,000 trucks a year using 115GWh of wind power. This effort doubles up with last week’s announcement that the company will use solar power to manufacture 850 Corvettes each year.

Meanwhile, the world’s bestselling electric car manufacturer Nissan has this week announced plans to revolutionise the EV market by turning cars into ‘energy hubs’ that can send stored energy back to the grid.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie