Ford anticipates that electrified vehicles—hybrids (HEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and battery-electric vehicles (BEV)—will represent 2-5% of its global fleet by 2015, and then increase rapidly to 10-25% of its global fleet by 2020, said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s Director of Global Electrification, in several talks at Plug-in 2010 in San Jose, California this week. Currently (2010), electrified products (only hybrids at this point) represent 1% of Ford’s global fleet.
Ford anticipates that hybrids will represent about 70% of the 2020 numbers, with plug-in hybrids contributing 20-25% and battery-electric vehicles the remainder, she said. All of that is highly dependent on fuel prices, policies, and customer value propositions, she noted.
In 2009, Ford sold 4.817 million units worldwide, down from 5.532 million in 2008.
We have now embedded electrification...including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, any vehicle where electricity directly displaces oil or a liquid fuel...as one of the current and future technologies as a core part of our product portfolio, our capital allocation process, our vehicle platform design and manufacturing processes. This is important.
This is strategic. This is not just an image vehicle, or an image technology. It’s not a science experiment. It is embedded into the fabric of our company, along with other technologies...Long term we see electrification as part of the fuel diversity plan going forward.
Moving forward, Ford is electrifying its highest volume global platform (the C platform, rather than using unique platforms. With 12 different top hats (e.g., Focus, Transit Connect, C-Max, S-Max), the C-sized platform represents more than 2 million units a year. By electrifying that platform and building the vehicles down the same assembly lines with a minimal number of stations changing, Ford has an opportunity during a very volatile period, Gioia said.
To support a mass market for electrified vehicles, Gioia said, requires:
- Great features and functional, trustworthy technology—i.e., reliable, durable and safe.
- Access to the fuel.
- Meeting the transportation need.
If you hold a BEV at a constant range of 100 miles, over time the cost of the battery pack comes down, she noted, and begins to converge to equal the replacement cost of the powerpack of a plug-in. However, she noted, that assumes that a 100-mile range is acceptable to the customers. Reinventing in the BEV for a larger range may change the equation, she said.
Ford’s approach with its plug-in hybrid is to use the parallel power split architecture of its standard hybrids. This enables Ford to use identical parts such as traction motors, and power electronics between HEVs and PHEVs. The PHEVs share 85% of the components of the HEV system, with the notable exceptions being the battery pack, charger and wiring, and electric pumps and cooling circuits, resulting in significant economies of scale.
During this volatile period, by utilizing our highest volume platforms, by having common parts between hybrids and plug in hybrids we are doing the most to make this as affordable as possible during a very dynamic time.
Battery technology is clearly key to cost improvement, she said, noting that Ford expects there to be four cycles of battery chemistry improvement over the next 10 years.
At the end of the day, the clarity of communication to the consumer is going to be very important. And so while we have to compete, we also have to compete with some level of consistency of communication, because it is going to be a bit of a confusing environment moving forward. I think we are going to have a very short honeymoon period...there are so many entries, so many things. If we can’t help the consumers with clear communication and understanding, I fear that we may damage the reputation of the technology.
...We must have a constancy of purpose. Changing the fuel source and changing the energy paradigm is not something we can switch back and forth every two, three or four years based on election periods. There must be a national and actually global constancy of purpose on this journey. We are on a marathon, a 50-year journey, we are not on a 3-5 year journey. This takes an enormous amount of staying power.