|Ford’s changing share of the hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery-electric vehicle segments and total ED market in the US in 2012 and YTD 2013. Data: EDTA, Ford Motor. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company’s C-platform electric drive strategy has driven an increase in Ford’s overall electric drive market share (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric) from 7.3% in calendar year 2012 to 14.7% for the first nine months of 2013.
Specifically, out of 487,480 electric drive units sold in 2012 (according to data from the Electric Drive Transportation Association), Ford accounted for 35,719 units (7.3%). From January through September 2013, total electric drive sales were 457,704 units (EDTA); Ford’s electric drive sales climbed to 67,232 units during that period (14.7%).
2012 was something of a transition year for Ford with its electric drive vehicles; the venerable Escape Hybrid was phasing out, while only the new Fusion Hybrid and the MKZ Hybrid had a full year of sales. The Focus Electric went on sale in June; the C-MAX hybrid went on sale in September; the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in October; and the Fusion Energi wouldn’t go on sale until February 2013.
Accordingly, in 2012, Ford only held a 7.5% share of the conventional hybrid market in the US (434,645 total units sold, according to EDTA, with Ford accounting for 32,660).
|Monthly 2013 sales of Ford electric drive vehicles. Data: Ford. Click to enlarge.|
But for the first nine months of 2013, Ford’s sales of conventional hybrids (Fusion, C-MAX and MKZ) zoomed to 58,262 units, or 14.9% of the industry’s 389,725 units sold. (The flap over realized fuel efficiency of the C-MAX and its subsequent relabeling to a lower window-sticker mpg (earlier post) appear to have some slowing impact on its market performance. Chart at right.)
On the battery-electric vehicle side, despite stronger sales, the Focus Electric has seen its electric drive market share slip from 4.8% in 2013 (685 units out of a total 14,251) to 3.8% (1,335 units out of 35,261 units total).
However, with both of its plug-in hybrids (C-MAX and Fusion Energi) in the market in 2013, Ford saw its share of that element of the electric drive marketplace surge from 6.2% in 2012 to 23.3% so far in 2013: 7,635 units out of an industry total of 32,718 plug-in hybrids.
At this week’s Plug-in 2013 Conference in San Diego, Green Car Congress had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Tinskey, Ford’s Associate Director, Vehicle Electrification & Infrastructure, to talk about Ford’s strategy and performance in this area.
You know we are on an upward trend and we are pretty proud of where we stand. Last year at this time, we only had a fraction of the market, now we are running close to 15%. It’s been pretty amazing growth from hybrids, plug-in hybrids and BEVs. It’s primarily been conquest customers. Especially in cities like LA and San Francisco, we are really bringing in primarily, for the most part, Toyota customers.
The products we have, the C-MAX Energi, the Fusion Energi, and their hybrid counterparts, as well as the Focus Electric are all offering something for everyone, so the demographics are quite varied.
We’ve been seeing a bulk of our sales in hybrids, followed by plug-in hybrids, followed by the battery electric. I can’t really comment on what is likely to happen, but I can say that there are hypotheses that the hybrid owners are going to maybe be our next plug-in hybrid customers.
Our strategy is based on offering electric powertrains for everyone. We can take Fusion, we can offer it as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and as an EcoBoost. The plug-in hybrid and the hybrid essentially share most of their components—both from a vehicle and an electric powertrain standpoint. There is not a lot of difference aside from the bigger battery and the inverter. It allows us to really get scale. Between those two, we are selling a lot more volume than if we sold a plug-in alone or a hybrid alone. So it’s a really good strategy from that standpoint.
From an aspirational standpoint, our assumption is that people get used to the electric mode in hybrids. The bulk of [electric drive] customers are buying hybrids, which are now becoming mainstream. And they are not going to want to go back. In fact, they are probably going to want to go further. My sense is that those customers will migrate to plug-in hybrids as we move forward.—Mike Tinskey
For now, he suggested, platforms for plug-in models will remain C-segment or C/D. Although at some point there will be a migration into D-segment and beyond, larger platforms, especially the light-duty truck platform, will have to wait until battery costs come down to enable decent electric range at acceptable cost.
For Ford, Tinskey noted, there is also a problem with smaller platforms (e.g., B and below): battery packaging.
It’s not impossible, it’s just becomes more challenging. In our case, our strategy is built on how to leverage a global platform and get not only a diesel or a gasoline powertrain into the product, but how do you also get an electric powertrain into the product. When you go down to a B-size platform with that type of strategy, you basically would have to use the majority of the trunk space. So we’re likely going to see some of that product, but it’s going to be purpose-built.—Mike Tinskey