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Ford Outlines European Electric-Vehicle Strategy

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Ford Outlines European Electric-Vehicle Strategy

By Byron Pope, Mar 2, 2010 5:00 AM

Ford Motor Co. announces at the Geneva auto show today plans to migrate its North American vehicle-electrification strategy to Europe.

The auto maker says five full- and hybrid-electric vehicles will be launched in the C, C-D and light-commercial segments in Europe by 2013.

The first vehicle to arrive will be the Transit Connect EV utility van in 2011, followed by the Ford Focus EV in 2012. Three other vehicles, two next-generation HEVs and a plug-in, will arrive in 2013.

Ford’s European electrification strategy closely follows that of North America but will lag by six-12 months, says Nancy Gioia, director-global electrification.

Gioia does not say what models will offer the next-generation HEV or PHEV technologies, noting details will be announced closer to launch.

Much of Ford’s EV powertrain development is being done in North America with supplier partners such as Magna International Inc. and Azure Dynamics Inc. Elements of the technology will be used in European electrified vehicles and final assembly likely will take place at one of Ford’s European plants, Gioia says.

While electrified vehicles, such as HEVs, account for about 2.4% of total U.S. light-vehicle sales, Europe’s percentage is even less, she says, noting the high penetration of diesel engines, which offer superior fuel economy.

Therefore, Ford expects most of its upcoming EVs to be targeted toward fleet use, especially given the higher cost of the advanced technology and its limited range. “The No.1 competitor to electrification is diesel and gas engines,” Gioia says. “We need to have large improvements in (electric) vehicle technology to justify the extra cost.”

However, Ford of Europe CEO John Fleming says there is increasing interest among Europeans in electrified vehicles. “And we are responding by stepping up our efforts to bring these models to the marketplace, alongside our latest-generation, fuel-efficient, petrol- and diesel-powered models.”

Ford plans to participate in two European trial programs to test the technologies in real-world driving conditions.

In the U.K., a consortium made up of Ford, energy-utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Strathclyde University is preparing later this year to test a fleet of prototype Focus EVs.

The vehicles will be used by SSE, as well as fleet and private customers in Hillingdon and Middlesex, U.K., beginning in mid-2010, Ford says.

In Germany, Ford will participate in the “colognE-mobil” project to research the impact of EVs on urban air quality, traffic safety and electric infrastructure.

The project, scheduled to begin in late-2011, is partly funded by the German government and coordinated by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ford says.

Partners include utility company RheinEnergie AG, the city of Cologne and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

“These initiatives are a revolution for both the utility and automotive industries,” Fleming says. “Collaborating across sectors is essential to ensure customer-focused products that provide the right value along with the readiness of the infrastructure.”

While Ford is forging ahead with a variety of electrified vehicles, Gioia is quick to point out traditional internal-combustion engine technology is not going away anytime soon. “We see diesel and (gasoline) engines still on the road in 2050.”



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Ford hybrids, electrics will arrive in Europe starting next year

Rick Kranz

Automotive News Europe -- March 2, 2010 11:00 CET

GENEVA -- Ford Motor Co. said it will expand its global vehicle electrification program to Europe in 2011, starting with the battery-powered Transit Connect.

In all, Ford will offer five electric or hybrid vehicles in Europe across its C, C/D and light commercial vehicle ranges by 2013. Ford announced the initiative today at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Besides the Transit Connect Electric, Ford will offer the Focus Electric in 2012, two unnamed gasoline hybrid vehicles and one unnamed plug-in hybrid model. The hybrids will appear in 2013.

The vehicles will go on sale in North America six to 12 months before sales in Europe.

“Electrification from our view is going to be a part of the global fuel diversity,” Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of global electrification, said during a press event last week in Dearborn, Michigan. “Oil as the only alternative as a fuel source is not a good business strategy.”

Ford's next-generation C and C/D vehicle platforms have been engineered for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, petro- and diesel applications, Gioia said.

By 2020, globally “10 to 25 percent of Ford's fleet will be electrified,” she said. Specific percentages will depend on regional factors such as fuel prices, government incentives and economic conditions. An additional factor will be whether breakthroughs dramatically boost the fuel economy of vehicles using gas and diesel engines.

For North America, of that 10 to 25 percent, about 70 percent will be hybrid vehicles, about 20 percent plug-ins and about 5 percent electric, Gioia said. Ford estimates a plus or minus factor of 5 percentage points.

Other than the battery, such things as the electric motor, transaxle, power electronics, dual inverters and connectors for the high voltage are, for the most part, shared by the hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric models, she said.

“That says that even if I am off by 10 or 20 percent [globally], all except the battery cell from our supply base is the same,” she said.

Long term, Gioia said, gasoline and diesel engines will “still be on the road in 2050 for particular applications.”

Ford's product development team is participating in two European trial initiatives to demonstrate electric technology in real-world driving conditions. Additionally, the team will generate feedback to help further develop the Focus Electric and Transit Connect Electric for acceptance in Europe.

This year in England, a consortium composed of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Strathclyde University in Glasgow will evaluate a fleet of Ford Focus battery-electric prototypes in Hillingdon, Middlesex.

In Germany, Ford recently announced its participation in the colognE-mobil project. This initiative will research the impact of electric vehicles on urban air quality, traffic safety and the electricity supply infrastructure. The evaluation will begin in late 2011.

Ford is one of four partners in the colognE-mobil project. The others are the utility company RheinEnergie AG, the city of Cologne and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The colognE-mobil project is partly funded by the German government and coordinated by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

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