Ford to focus on global hybrids

  • Ford confirms seven of 13 new global electrified vehicles
  • And an electric SUV with a potential 500km range
  • Plans for new plant in Mexico cancelled
ELECTRIC TRANSIT TAXI: Just one of many hybrid and battery vehicles planned by Ford. Image: Ford / Quickpic
ELECTRIC FORD TRANSIT TAXI: Just one of a number of hybrid and battery-powered standard and autonomous vehicles planned by Ford, some only for North America only, others for global distribution. Image: Ford / Quickpic

FLAT ROCK, Michigan – Ford has detailed seven of 13 battery or hybrid vehicles it plans to introduce around the world through the next five years – one of them the pictured plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe.

There will also be hybrid versions of the F-150 large bakkie and the Mustang sport car in the US and – also for global sale – a batteries-only SUV with an expected range of at least 500km.

The automaker has also (Jan 3 2017) announced plans to invest $700-million (about R9-billion) to expand its Flat Rock plant in Michigan to assemble high-tech autonomous and electric vehicles along with the Mustang and Lincoln Continental. The expansion will create 700 direct new jobs and was initially to have gone to Mexico.

ELECTRIC TRANSIT TAXI: Just one of many hybrid and battery vehicles planned by Ford. Image: Ford / Quickpic
HYBRID MPV’S FOR HAILING: Ford’s iconic Transit van is one of many hybrid and battery vehicles planned by Ford. Image: Ford / Quickpic

“The moves,” Ford says, “are part of a $4.5-billion (about R58-billion) investment in electric vehicles by 2020 to offer greater fuel efficiency, capability and power across Ford’s global vehicle range.

“It’s all part of an expansion plan to make Ford an auto and mobility company a leader in electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions.”

FOCUS ON STRONG AREAS

Mark Fields, Ford motors’ president and CEO, explained: “Our investments and expanding range of vehicles reflect our view that global offerings of electric vehicles will exceed petrol-fuelled vehicles within the next 15 years.”

Ford is focusing its EV plan on its areas of strength – electrifying its most popular high-volume commercial vehicles, trucks, SUV’s and performance vehicles to make them more capable, productive and fun to drive.

The seven vehicles just announced are:

  • An all-new fully electric small SUV (by 2020) with a potential charge range of at least 500km to be assembled at the Flat Rock plant and sold in North America, Europe and Asia
  • A Transit Custom plug-in hybrid (by 2019) for Europe engineered to help reduce operating costs in even the most congested streets
  • A high-volume autonomous vehicle (by 2021) for commercial ride-hailing (Uber style) or ride-sharing, starting in North America. It, too, will be assembled at Flat Rock.
  • A hybrid version of the F-150 pick-up (by 2020) for North America and the Middle East to be assembled at Ford’s Dearborn truck plant. The automaker says it have powerful towing and payload capacity and be able to operate as a mobile electricity generator.
  • A hybrid version of the Mustang (by 2020) that will deliver V8 power and even more low-revs torque. It will also be assembled at Flat Rock for sale, initially at least, only in North America.
  • Two new pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles – one to be assembled in Chicago but both to have their police equipment fitted at Ford’s police mods centre in Chicago

FACTORY PLANS FOR MEXICO CANCELLED

Ford also announced the cancellation of plans for a new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, explaining: “To improve company profitability and ensure the financial and commercial success of the next-generation Focus the cars will be assembled in an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.

“This will make way for two new iconic products at the Wayne, Michigan, plant where the Focus is already assembled. This will safeguard about 3500 US jobs.”

Ford believes 87% of plug-in hybrid buyers will opt for another afterwards.

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