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William Maley

Ford News: Ford Sees Hybrid Powertrains Being Better For Commercial Autonomous Vehicles

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Ford and General Motors have differing views on autonomous vehicles. GM is planning on launching a number of Chevrolet Bolt EVs in various urban markets in 2019 for a ride-hailing service. Ford, on the other hand, is taking a different approach in terms of powertrain and use.

Ford's top sales executive, Jim Farley said their autonomous vehicle - due in 2021 - will be a hybrid vehicle with a focus on commercial applications. Farley explained that going with a hybrid powertrain would allow their vehicles to stay on the road longer thanks to a longer range when compared to EVs. The company expects their autonomous vehicles to be on the road for roughly 20 hours a day. Using an electric vehicle for this type of task doesn't make business sense as they would need to recharge constantly.

"Anytime you're not carrying goods and people, you're losing money. The most important thing is uptime and profitability. What we see is the [hybrid] is a much better cost-of-ownership model," said Farley.

The constant recharging also brings up another negative for electric vehicles, frequent replacement of the batteries due to increased degradation.

Ford has already announced a pilot program with Domino's pizza to do deliveries in a self-driving plan. Next year, Ford will this commercial idea to the test by putting a fleet of vehicles in a "yet-to-be-named test city" with a number of partners.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)


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I understand both sides of this coin and I wonder what the thought is on how long an autonomous auto should be allowed to drive around before being checked on. I can see this more for commercial transportation than inner city ridesharing or taxi service.

I also wonder just how much added maintenance a Hybrid will have compared to a full EV especially as we grow the battery density, no reason you could not have a local in city autonomous taxi that can last 20hrs between recharges.

This is going to be interesting to see who ends up right.

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7 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

I could see a bunch of autonomous hybrid Ford Transit Connects for city delivery duty.

I know that would make Amazon happy.....

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10 hours ago, daves87rs said:

I know that would make Amazon happy.....

Exactly...

As much as I dislike Ford-and today is a day where they could shut down every Ford plant on the planet for all I care-I think they are really on the right track here.

Also, you didn't hear it from me, but that Fusion looks kind of hot in the graphics package pictured....in a good sort of way.

18 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

I could see a bunch of autonomous hybrid Ford Transit Connects for city delivery duty.

If a vehicle was truly autonomous it would not need to pass passenger or driver crash test or comfort standards, making it wildly cheaper to build.  Humans may well not be needed or wanted in large parts of our economic future.

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