Ford Finally Makes Its Move Into Electric Cars
01.17.18 arian Marshall
[image / Ford
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford announced it
will invest $11 billion to develop a raft of new electric cars, including a
long-range SUV to be called the Mach 1.
A Mustang and an Explorer wheel into a Detroit factory. This is not,
tragically, the beginning of a joke. Rather, it’s a new (and weirdly ‘80s
themed?) Ford promo video. Lightning flashes, synthesizers synthesize, and
we behold the carmaker's next great machine, to debut in 2020: an
all-electric SUV, good for 300 miles of driving between charges, called the
Mach 1. Well, we behold a glowing sign that reads "Mach 1"—Ford has yet to
debut the car, even as a concept or prototype. The fog and light-infused
video will have to do for now.
The name is borrowed from the performance-oriented Mustang Mach 1, which hit
the road five decades ago. Now the carmaker will trade on that name to
launch itself deep in the 21st century, and challenge crosstown rival
General Motors on an emerging frontline: electric driving.
“It’s the beginning of a whole new world for our customers, and electrifying
the best of Ford,” Jim Farley, who heads up the carmaker’s global markets
effort, said on stage at the North American International Auto Show. The
Detroit car caucus, the biggest of its kind in the country, is the place
where the big US automakers like to trumpet their big plans and ambitions.
Sure, that’s vague. Less vague: Ford’s announcement that it will pump $11
billion into electric vehicles in the next five years, with 24 hybrid and 16
fully electric vehicles to debut by 2022. The company said a year ago it
would spend $4.5 billion on EVs by 2020; now it’s nearly doubling that
commitment. (The adjustment likely comes from Jim Hackett, who replaced
ousted CEO Mark Fields in May.)
When it comes to electrifying announcements, Ford is playing catchup. In
October, GM announced it would roll out 20 fully electric models by 2023,
and eventually ditch fossil fuels altogether. Volvo will debut five battery
electrics between 2019 and 2021, and stop designing cars without batteries
next year. Jaguar Land Rover makes zero electric cars right now, but says
every new model it produces from 2020 onward will come in an electric or
hybrid variety. Nissan, one of the earliest electric proponents, just
announced Infiniti will launch its first EV in 2021, and says half of the
luxury brand's 2025 global sales will be electrified. Even smaller carmakers
are getting in on the act: Aston Martin’s electric RapidE debuts in 2019.
Right now, Ford makes a grand total of one fully electric car, a variant of
the Focus that offers just over 100 miles of range—far short of the
long-legged models from GM and Tesla. And while it has done plenty of
talking about the future, this is the first time Ford has made a detailed
public commitment to building EVs.
It’s no mistake that Farley, Ford’s global head, presided over the Mach 1’s
"debut" this week. The gold rush on electric is all about the international
market. Chinese drivers buy half the world’s EVs, and new regulations demand
manufacturers’ electric vehicles account for 12 percent of their Chinese
sales by 2020. Ford won't get there with one model, and it doesn't want to
give up on China, where it sold more than a million cars in 2017.
Meanwhile, the European Union will implement more aggressive CO2 emissions
limits in 2020. France and the UK plan to ban the sale of nonelectric cars
by 2040. On the domestic front, California is mulling the same move.
Whatever the Left Coast does, US customer enthusiasm definitely is not
powering these electric dreams. According to the website InsideEVs,
Americans bought just under 200,000 plug-in electric vehicles in 2017.
That’s up 25 percent over 2016, but still a pittance in a market that moves
17 million cars a year.
So no wonder that, in Detroit, Ford also showed off a restocked stable of
musclebound steeds. The limited-edition Mustang Bullitt will emerge this
summer with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, good for 475 horsepower and a top speed
of 163 mph. And the carmaker introduced the 2019 Ford Ranger, a midsize
truck for the off-roading set. Electric is coming, but in the meantime: Fill
’er up, ‘Merica!
Mach 1: Ford teases an all-electric performance SUV at the Detroit ... (v)
Jan 15, 2018 During its press conference ahead of the official start of the
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conference, which featured the Bullitt edition Mustang, the Edge ST and the
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