In a speech today at the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory (now renamed the Ford Research and Innovation Center) Ford CEO Bill Ford Jr. vowed a major push in hybrids, targeting a production capability of at least 250,000 hybrids per year by 2010, and stated that more than half of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products will have hybrid capability by then.
He also announced that Ford will offer new Flex-Fuel versions of the F-150, Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and Town Car in 2006 for a total production of some 250,000 E85-capable vehicles next year.
We know that our customers are increasingly concerned about energy for many reasons: its volatile price; its impact on the environment; and its concentration in the hands of a few nations, some of whom are hostile to our national interests. A multi-dimensional energy crisis afflicts this nation, and our customers feel it in their pocketbooks.
Our job is to help alleviate some of their concerns with viable options in their personal transportation. And that poses a particularly difficult challenge to us at Ford, where many of the vehicles we produce are bigger, heavier and more energy intensive than those of some of our competitors.
But the challenging issues raised by the use of fossil fuels call for even more creative solutions, some of which may not be fully appreciated for a number of years.
[...] Longer term, people in Ford labs around the world are working hard to develop technologies that provide even more options, such as clean diesel, hydrogen internal combustion engines and fuel cells. It is simply too early to know whether one solution might render the others obsolete.
To deal with that uncertainty, Ford outlined a strategy he termed “Aggressive Flexibility”—pushing hard on all other best ideas to respond as markets and governments make known their preferences.
Other initiatives Ford announced today related to sustainability included:
A Carbon Offset Program. Ford will pay for projects around the world that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the same amount that it emits in the production of our hybrid vehicles. That might mean a methane abatement project in Central America, a tree planting effort in Asia or a wind farm in California that would reduce the amount of CO2 that would normally occur had such projects not been in place. (It’s not yet clear whether Ford will fund the projects directly, or go through an exchange.)
Additionally, the company is in discussions with outside partners to initiate an informational campaign for consumers on how they can offset the carbon emissions from their vehicle use.
Also on the flex-fuel front, Ford is working with fuel providers to expand the infrastructure needed to provide ethanol. Bill Ford said the company will “actively engage” customers so they will understand that they have FFV options.