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Ford Backing Off 2010 Hybrids Target

29 June 2006

The Detroit Free Press reports that an internal e-mail sent from Ford Motor Co. chairman and CEO Bill Ford to employees backs off of his pledge last year that the company would build 250,000 hybrids a year by 2010.

In the email, Ford says that he didn’t forsee the evolution of other fuel technologies and that he didn’t want to “wed ourselves to a single technology.” A Ford spokesman confirmed the memo.

In an interview with the Free Press earlier this month, Ford expressed his desire to develop Earth-friendly technologies.

“We are pushing very hard on ethanol and on hybrids and on hydrogen, and we’re committed to that future,” he said. “Because ... it is clear to me that we are in a world of diminishing natural resources, so if we’re going to be successful in that world, we better put all our R&D muscle and future product development behind that, and we are.”

Ford, along with GM and Chrysler, just sent a letter to all Members of Congress pledging a doubling of flex-fuel vehicle production by 2010. (Earlier post.)

Today marked the launch of the “Midwest Ethanol Corridor”: a Ford/VeraSun Energy partnership to boost the availability of E85 pumps along I-55 in Illinois and I-70 in Missouri. The conversions of pumps to E85 will expand the fuels availability by approximately one third in the two states.

Ford currently offers four flexible fuel vehicles, the 2006 F-150, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car and will produce up to 250,000 FFVs this year. In addition, Ford has also committed to double the number of biofuel-capable vehicles that it produces in the US by 2010.

June 29, 2006 in Ethanol, Hybrids, Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

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The Three Stooges got together and sent a letter to congress promising to be good. I guess it was a co-incidence they all sent the same letter at the same time. It was not SAE or the larger car makers organization, just the three "competitors". I'm glad the boys talk, in the past I would have been worried about antitrust concerns. Of course they can work together on the governments behalf like the Clinton era car program to get 85 mpg. Most of the money went to the big 3. Did you all like the result? Toyota and Honda built better cars, GM cancelled the only car that got 85 MPG or better equivilent the EV-1.

I would like this news if they were not using the ethanol CAFE loophole to make more bad cars!

Ford has obviously decided that hybreids are too rich for its blood. Unfortunately for them, FFV technology is decidedly low-tech and expensive for the customer (in terms of extra fuel used if actually operated on E85).

The notion that Ford did not foresee the advance of other fuel technologies is not credible IMHO. In the automotive world, paradigm-changing innovations are very few and far between. Mostly, it's a few percent improvement here and a few percent there. By chasing every wild goose out there (specifically: hydrogen) when it doesn't have the deep pockets to match, Ford is guaranteed to trail its competitor in the introduction of any one of these technologies. The scattershot approach is also taking away from their ability to execute plain old model revisions, e.g. on the long-in-the-tooth US version of the Focus.

jPadula - It is collusion when a bunch of companies conspire together. Anti-trust would be if it were one company with unfair business practices.

Such silliness. As if they couldn't still hit 250,000 hybrids by 2010 and just make some of that number FFV hybrids.

Ford has no credible short term or medium term alternative to hybrid technology. Toyota and Honda are making their hybrid technologies even better. more fuel efficient, and cheaper. Ethanol isn't going to cut it, especially when people wake up to the mpg penalties.

Ford has a perfect plan for the year 2026, making the very big assumption that hydrogen will be viable by then. What did they plan to do in the mean time?

Maybe Ford will get lucky. Maybe gas will be $1.50 per gallon by next Christmas.

Maybe monkies will fly out of Bill Ford's butt any day now.

The midwest ethanol corridor is the highway to hell and the demise of Ford and GM.

Let's just say, and why not, that ethanol actually will take off big and be popular amongst the public. Toyota and Honda can more easily convert their hybrids to FFV than Ford and GM can convert their FFVs to competitive hybrids.

Throw in a reasonably priced PHEV option and it's game over. No one really knows how much it would cost Toyota to come up with a mass productin PHEV. But it is clear that it will be a helluva lot cheaper than the current $10,000 onesy, twosy retrofits. Calcars estimates Toyota can do it for $3,000.

Dang it, what are they doing? They better be moving to ultra clean diesels, or planing to make compacts/ subcompacts that can take on Camary and Civic in ALL aspects.
_
___On a side note, what is wrong with the Bourke engine? I know you may have to replace the Scotch yoke every 5 years, 70,000 miles, but what else? The counterweight already takes care of cylinder momentum. OPOC is another take on it. Is not as efficient though.

Just proves that paying someone a 25 million dollars a year does not make them smart. How can you run a huge manufacturing company so ad hoc? Toyota has been planning the hybrid revolution since the late 90s. Bill Ford can't seem to make up his mind, just following one fad after the other.

Could there be any reason for Ford to be jumping on the Flex Fuel bandwagen other than to do an end-run around CAFE standards? Don't the automakers get to claim some ridiculous fuel efficiency for their FFV's?

I don't mind FFV's mind you, I just don't want to subsidize them. Let them stand or fall on their own merits, or lack thereof.

I think we should ALL boicott Ford for good!

FS

Here's what happened as I see it: Bill Ford committed his company to making 250,000 hybrids a year. That made him feel real good. But then, after all the backslapping came the realities. His engineers explained to him the challenges involved. His accountants explained to him the costs involved. Suddenly Billy wasn't feeling so good anymore. Some might say he was feeling decidedly green.

Then Billy looked across town at his "rivals". GM is ruled by accountants, not engineers. They gave up on building better cars a long time ago. Their main interest is to keep doing things they way they have been doing it, come hell or high water. They believe that if you make a crappy car, but keep insisting it is quality, eventually you will sell enough to break even. And to claim that "see, it was a good car".

GM had a different approach to the challenges presented by high fuel costs. Per default they asked themselves: "How do we do nothing, but make it look like we are doing something?"

By now we all know the answer: They make a big deal about FFVs. They make FFVs to take advantage of the CAFE loophole. But now they came up with the genius idea of claiming that FFV is a way to wean us of oil. As long as nobody mentions that there is currently enough ethanol in the US to replace ~1% of our oil use. (Hey, we are expanding our capacity, we may even double it! Whoopy, make that ~2%!)

So Bill was faced with a familiar choice: Stay true to his word and cost his company a ton of money. Or follow the opposition, save all that money and make both GM and Ford's position look legitimate.

Much as Bill would have loved to be true to himself, I doubt he could afford it...

You know, this isn't as bad as you all think that it is. Where I live (Minnesota), we've had E10 in all our gas for nearly ten years. We've had E85 available for about five. In effect, we have instantaniously reduced our net carbon emissions by (at the very minimum) 10%. All while reducing conventional pollutants by ~20%. E85 tends to be relegated to fleets for the most part, it seems, and to the occational farmer or eco-savvy consumer. BUT, fleets use tremendous amounts of gas, so a 70% reduction in net carbon (by using E85) is a very acceptable number in my eyes. And, there is little difference in your mileage between E10 and petrol.

For easy reference, some related facts:
1. The CAFE loophole alone allowed an extra 237 million tons of CO2 to enter our atmosphere last year (1999). A bit dated, but things only got worse since then...
2. The irony here is that although E85 in fact gets poorer fuel economy than gasoline, for CAFE purposes, the government counts only the 15-percent gasoline content of E85. Not counting the ethanol, which is the other 85 percent, produces a seven-fold increase in E85 mpg. The official CAFE number for an E85 vehicle results from averaging the gas and the inflated E85 fuel-economy stats.

Calculating backward from our test Tahoe’s window-sticker figures (which are lower than but derived from the unpublished CAFE numbers), we figure the E85 Tahoe’s CAFE rating jumped from 20.1 mpg to 33.3 mpg, blowing through the 22.2-mpg mandate and raising GM’s average. What’s that worth? Well, spread over the roughly 4.5-million vehicles GM sold in 2005, the maximum 0.9-mpg benefit allowed by the E85 loophole could have saved GM more than $200 million in fines. That’s not chump change, even for the auto giant. — Dave VanderWerp

Joe- Toyota has been planning the hybrid revolution since the mid-90s. While the Prius wasn't sold here until 1999 it was actually the first mass produced HEV sold in the world when it was released in 1997. The 1997 to 1998 versions had less power and the same fuel economy as the 1999 version.

Remember when Ford stock was more than 28 dollars a share and they had a good P/E ratio? I sure do because I bought a bunch of stock back then. Today that stock trades at 6 dollars a share.

Ford said that they could produce vehicles with Zero emissions, and that Think city car would be the first of many. I believed them and then they ran that company into the ground.

Ford said that they would produce 250,000 Hybrids a year and I believed them. Now they are saying something different. If Toyota can produce high mileage hybrids and sell every one they build at a profit, why can’t Ford do the same?

I guess the only person dumber than Bill Ford is me for buying stock in his company.

The first car I ever owned was a 54 Ford Crestline. It was a GREAT car in 1954.

Today I own a 2006 Toyota Prius. It is the BEST car I have ever owned. As soon as Ford builds a better car than my Toyota, I will buy it.

Dang wish I would have bought Toyota stock 10 years ago.

Kyle Dansie

You guys are right on....
The three stooges and monkeys out of Ford's butt.
Once again Detroit is climbing their way to the bottom of the heap AGAIN.

I believe that Ford & GM figured this out: vehicles profitable enough to support a hybrid drivetrain's cost are their SUVs. They cannot make a hybrid SUV with fuel economy improvement that appears meaningful to buyers. In any case, buyers of SUVs are much more supportive of ethanol. Guessing: ethanol's connection with farming synergizes strongly with the appeal of the SUV to it's market segment.

Told ya. The only thing that matters is wheels on the road. Promises mean nothing.

We don't have to buy GM or Ford vehicles, at least until they make start to make sense.

No its just that the plants in mexico that will build all this stuff are prolly delayed a bit so they are stuck limping along with old us plants they dont wana waste money updating.

Its far far better for ford and gm to take s hit of a few dozen billion now and cull its losing plants then it is to keep the beast fed.

I agree this is a bad moment for Ford. But someone else said Honda and Toyota are the only ones doing better. I am not so sure of that. Toyota is the clear hybrid king but Honda is also falling back. There will be no CRV and no new hybrid from Honda till 2009. The Insight is canceled and the remaining hybrids are just mild assist hybrids. Ford at least has a FULL hybrid. Unless Ford cancels plans for the full hybrid Ford Fusion Ford will be ahead of Honda for that bit.

Hey Bike Dude,
E85 does not save fossilized carbon released as much as you think. Think of all the diesel fuel used in farming activities and transportation of ethanol, natural gas for production of fertilizer,and coal required for distillation of the ethanol to anhydrous form. E85 from corn for fuel is a misguided practice. Ethanol from corn should only be used to make E10, due to the toxicity of the former oxygen-rich additive.

Ford can't build 250,000 hybrids if they fear they won't be able to sell them, and it seems that they have had to deeply discount the batch of Escort Hybrid made last year to move them out. Apparently, it was priced too high. Nor can Ford make that many hybrids unless they have secure a source of battery.

It seems that the dual-mode hybrid that Ford, GM et al are developing is more complicated than it needs to be. Make hybrids real simple: Atkinson-cycle engine coupled to a large starter-generator, large traction motor, no transmission, just reversible torque-lockup between the engine and the traction motor for use during cruise, battery or flywheel or ultracap sized sufficient for regenerative braking. Price them low and make 'em in large numbers and it would be hard to beat.

Coca Cola Co and Pepsi Co should make ethanol.

Given that the US consumes about 14 billion gallons of sweetened carbonated beverages in a year they are using close to 1.25 million kg of sugar every day for sodas. You could make some ethanol with all that sugar...no more sodas could help to alleviate the US problem with weight as well (less weight = less fuel to move them around? ...just being facetious!)

I get the push for FFV's. The explanation above is compelling -- besides they can ride on GM's promotion budget. But that should not preclude moving forward with hybrids. Dump the fuel cell stuff and put the money into hybrids. They could do an ultracap or even hydrolic system in one of their biggest SUV's or trucks and sell the hell out of them -- "my vehicle is bigger than yours, and saves gas," plus, the engine could be FF.

I am so disgusted with the American car manufactures.

I wanted to buy a Toyota Prius but could not afford one because the only one they had was priced at 30,000; It was their last one! The Toyota dealer said he could sell it at that high price because people want them that bad! Supply and demand he said!

If only they would learn and take a risk instead of looking at the bottom line.

You need to find another dealer. I looked up MSRP on an option package #4 on the Toyota web site and that is exactly what I paid at the dealer. The dealer I went to was Mark Miller in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It was an easy purchase and I only had to wait about a month for my car.

Kyle Dansie

Kid:

This is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas. I also was looking at Hond Fit at an MSRP of 14000 but could not buy one in the area for LESS THAN 18000! Again, they said that these cars were selling like hot cakes and they could mark up the price to what they see fit. I gues I need to buy a car outside of Texas if I want to get a decent price.

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