2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid powertrain named to Ward’s 10 Best Engines List
GM to use wind power for more than 50% of annual vehicle output from Arlington Assembly plant

Ford investing additional $4.5B to add 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020; new fast-charging Focus Electric next year

Ford is investing an additional $4.5 billion to add 13 new electrified vehicles to its portfolio by 2020, when more than 40% of the company’s global nameplates will come in electrified versions. Although Ford is currently the second-largest vendor of electrified vehicles in the US, having sold more than 450,000 units since the introduction of its first hybrid (the Escape Hybrid) in 2004 (earlier post), it has not brought a new electrified vehicle model to its US showrooms since the Focus Energi plug-in hybrid in February 2013.

The new $4.5B infusion is Ford’s largest-ever electrified vehicle investment in a five-year period.

Coming next year is a new Focus Electric, which features all-new DC fast-charge capability delivering an 80% charge in an estimated 30 minutes and projected 100-mile range—an estimated two hours faster than today’s Focus Electric. The new Focus Electric, which starts production late next year, also will provide North American and European customers:

  • SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD Instrument Cluster, which offers a multitude of customizable displays that can help the driver see real-time EV power usage to help maximize vehicle efficiency.

  • Brake Coach, another smart feature that coaches the driver on how to use smooth braking to maximize the energy captured through the Regenerative Braking System. The more energy a driver captures through braking, the more energy is returned to the vehicle’s battery.

  • Fun-to-drive character, with agile steering and handling engineered into the vehicle to give drivers a more connected feel to the road.

Ford also is reimagining how to set itself apart in the marketplace by focusing on the customer experience and not just the vehicle itself. The company is changing its product development process to support the shift.

The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people. By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward.

—Raj Nair, executive vice president, Product Development

In addition to traditional market research, Ford is investing in social science-based research globally, observing how consumers interact with vehicles and gaining new insights into the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic nuances that affect product design.

This new way of working brings together marketing, research, engineering and design in a new way to create meaningful user experiences, rather than individually developing technologies and features that need to be integrated into a final product. We are using new insights from anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists and designers, along with traditional business techniques, to reimagine our product development process, create new experiences and make life better for millions of people.

—Raj Nair

Next year, Ford is doubling the number of projects that use ethnographic research versus this year.

The team of social scientists already has spent months exploring topics such as the future of luxury transport, how people form relationships with their cars and the role of trucks in the American heartland.

ReD, a social science-based strategy consultancy, has been innovating with consumer goods and pharmaceutical companies for a decade. ReD started working with Ford—its sole automotive client—in 2012.

During the past three years, the team has invested more than 4,000 hours with thousands of vehicle users in more than 25 cities worldwide, taking 80,000 photos, nearly 3,000 hours of video and more than 8,000 pages of field notes, feeding countless insights to improve the product creation process.

For 70 years, market research has been done by asking people for their opinion. But Ford has always been fundamentally skeptical about that. Henry Ford used to say, ‘If I asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.’ I chose to work with Ford because this approach is in their DNA and is setting the company at the forefront of this advanced and bold process, which is redefining market research and silo-busting the way the company operates.

—Christian Madsbjerg, founder of ReD Associates and author of The Moment of Clarity

Another new twist to the product development process is that designers no longer just sketch products but also full customer experience illustrations that visualize the experience each product is meant to deliver. The series of vignettes define a unique user journey that seamlessly integrates both hardware and software experiences.

This user experience design technique also plays an important role in developing the Ford Smart Mobility plan, which is designed to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.



Well that's pretty big news. Bravo Ford. Especially for adding QC and 25 miles of range to the Focus. A good car gets better.


There was no reason they could not give the Focus EV a 100 mile range. It is one of the best looking EVs for sale in the U.S. they brought the price down to $30,000 and now are bringing the range up with quick charging. They are listening to the market.

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This is Ford beginning to take electric vehicles serious. 4.5 billion USD before 2020 is good but not enough. Tesla invests 5 billion in their 50gwh battery factory before 2020 and another 10 billion in other factories and electric infrastructure. Tesla invests over 3 times as much in electric vehicles than Ford.

Ford being much larger than Tesla should be able to invest more. Of cause, investing in making a product that does not sell is a bad thing. Nissin did that. They invested some 4 billion building capacity to make 250k Leafs per year and they have only sold about 50k per year. Tesla is the only one who knows how to make electric vehicles that are in demand. It is quite simple. Make the BEVs better than the gassers that cost the same and people will buy them. Currently that is only possible for high performance luxury cars costing over 70k USD. This market segment Tesla is about to take away from the old auto industry on a global scale.

Mass market BEVs will be economically viable only as self-driving taxi services but we may not see such services materialize until shortly after 2020. After that it will only take a few years to go global on a massive scale with such self-driving taxi services as each car produced will be able to sell over 100,000 miles per year in transportation services. That is over seven times as much per year as a privately owned car so one million taxi BEVs can replace 7 million privately owned cars in the market. It will be a massive industry revolution and most of the old auto makers will probably bankrupt in the process between 2025 and 2035.


Yes Henrik, e-taxis make a lot of common sense. The first 50 in our city are going full swing 16 to 18 hours a days. They next batch will arrive soon.

Large cities in China and India (and other places with pollution problems) could licence e-taxis ONLY, it would help to fight local rising pollution?


Henrik> Mass market BEVs will be economically viable only as self-driving taxi services...

Demonstrably false.


I'm sorry, but I just can not agree with your assessment. That is like someone in 2008 saying "solar is $5/Watt and will only be useful in very tine niche markets". Well, 7 years later and solar is $0.36/Watt and suddenly it's on the verge of being price competitive with natural gas or even coal.
The question is when will it hit that inflection point...but it will. And then it will dominate car sales as well as "drierless taxis". I don't know if that point will be 2020 or 2030. But it will happen....and gas prices will not stay at $50/barrel either.

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The reason I do not see self-owned BEVs being able to compete on price with 15k USD gassers is that battery prices currently are about 270 USD per kwh at the pack level and including a 15% gross margin. When Tesla is operational with their 50Gwh factory in 2020 they can do it for about 200 USD per kwh and it may go as low as 130 USD when another 20 of these 50Gwh factories are build by 2030-2035. That small car needs a 80kwh battery to do 200 miles in cold weather at high speed. Many people need that or they will not buy a BEV. That is a 10,400 USD (=80*130) battery pack/gas tank for an otherwise 15k USD car. That is not competitive. You can buy 3000 to 5000 gallons of gas for those 10k USD that will give you nearly enough gas for the life of the car assuming the 15k USD gasser can do 35 mpg. People will buy the 15k USD gasser instead of the 25k USD BEV. Remember that most of the world's car buyers are in the developing countries and they cannot afford more than 15k USD for a car. They will not buy the 25k USD BEV with a 80 kwh battery.

This is why we need self-driving Taxi BEVs to do the trick making BEVs global mass market economically viable. You could make a long lasting one million mile self-driving taxi BEV as at two seater with all the needed computer power and sensors that may cost 35k to 40k USD even with today's battery prices of over 200 USD per kwh. The car can earn 20,000 USD per year selling miles for 20 cents and doing 100k miles per year with paying customers. 20,000 USD per year is plenty to cover electricity, capital cost, maintenance and insurance. And 20 cents per mile is significantly less than the total cost of driving one mile in a 15k USD self-owned gasser.


Someone should use Tesla Model S for taxis, get some real miles on them to check the battery life.


@SJC There are many Teslas being used for airport taxis (limo style, call for service rather than wait in queue). All over Europe. I interviewed one of them in Canada. He's very happy with the Model S. Business is 3x what it was with SUV. There are also several in Los Angeles, California.

@Henrik. GM is already on record as saying their price was $145 kWh for the 2017 Bolt, expected $100 kWh by 2020. Telsa has long hinted at lower numbers, some analysts are estimating $70 kWh when the Gigafactory is in full production. If that sounds low, remember that their sales and marketing costs will be zero, and that they will have very long term contracts for raw materials.


They started using Tesla Model S in the Netherlands a year ago, not enough time to put 100,000+ miles on them. I never saw any reports of Tesla doing extensive tests like GM did with Volt batteries.

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SJC all of Tesla's cars get 8 years and unlimited mileage warranty on the battery and drivetrain. You do not need to worry it will last for the life of the car. Most of the short-range BEVs has either 160k miles or 100k miles battery warranties. They have a durability problem.

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ECI that 150 USD per kwh was a roamer and we don't know whether it was for cell or for packs with or without gross merging and at which time exactly that price was for or which other things GM needed to do in order to get that price (like buying LG components for every possible part in the Bolt).

My guess is the Bolt will sell for 30 k USD with a 55 kwh pack. It is essentially a 17k USD car so the battery pack including gross profit is 236 USD per kwh (=(30-17)/55). The 55kwh is not enough to do 200 miles in cold weather at high speed. You may get 130 miles. We need a 80 kwh battery for the small four seater to do that. I know people who love the Model S but that don't buy it yet because it too cannot do 200 miles in cold weather at 80-85 mph. For the Model S to have wide market appeal it needs a 110kwh battery option and the Model X needs a 130 kwh option and the model 3 a 85 kwh option.

But the Bolt is doing much better that the Leaf that get 458 USD per kwh (=(28-17)/24).


If Tesla did not do rigorous testing of their packs, who really knows how much capacity/range reduction they will suffer? The eight years is for failure, not capacity reduction.


I have to agree with Henrik that the major objection to public BEVs is the price of the battery pack.

Increased use in a taxis can reduced the effective price difference with equivalent ICEVs within a few months of heavy use.

One way to make BEVs more acceptable to the general public would be to raise subsidies (for up to 10 years) to cover most of the actual cost of the battery pack or $10K to $15K. Subsidies could be adjusted every year or so to correspond to the average battery pack price.

This could be budget neutral with a corresponding progressive (monthly) rise in fossil fuel taxes for the next 10 years or so.


Henrik> For the Model S to have wide market appeal

The Model S has wide market appeal in its class. It is outselling many other ICE models - combined. Tesla has demonstrated a willingness to increase the battery capacity and range, but its already quite capable and competitive right now. I have friends who are quite politically conservative and couldn't give a care about the environment buying Model S because it is a superior driving experience and meets all of their travel requirements. I routinely drive 1,000 mile trips - easily, with no more downside than a coffee & stretch or meal break every 3 hours (and free fuel and no tailpipe emissions on the upside).

$145 kWh & $100 in 2020 from GM was no rumor. That was official communication at a GM event. That was at the cell level.


If the world uses Tesla Model S for taxis and put 300,000 miles on hundreds of cars, we will see the capacity/range reduction. Until that time people are guessing.
An executive at Tesla said they were shooting for a future battery price of 25% of the car price. So an $80,000 Model S would have a $20,000 battery pack price. That is a future aspiration.

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ECI 145 USD per kwh at the cell level and then as I estimate 236 USD per kwh (=(30-17)/55) at the pack level sounds right. It is big progress from the current Leaf but a Bolt for 30k USD with a 55 kwh battery is still not going to convince people who would otherwise buy an even more useful gasser for 17 USD that has no range anxiety. My point is that even if you could get the price down to 130 USD per kwh at the pack level this is still too much and I do not believe we get to 130 USD until 2030 to 2035 and about 20 of those 50Gwh factories are build. We will get driverless BEV taxies many years sooner than 2030. I read that GM had to buy pretty much every other component from LG that LG could make and that could also be used in the Bolt to get the battery price they got. So 145 and 100 USD at the cell level may not be the true price in a more normal situation. LG wanted that contract at almost any price because they know they need to get into volume production as fast as Tesla/Panasonic or their cost will be higher.

I should not have written "wide market appeal". I meant complete market appeal in that segment. Even Tesla could have more demand with a larger battery pack which will come. Musk expect to add 5kwh to the largest battery pack every 18 month or so. It is not a critique of Tesla. They do better than everyone else so no critique from me I am just pointing out a real concern/reservation that many potential customers still have.

SJC Tesla and every other BEV maker have tested their batteries extensively before selling them in their BEVs. They know pretty well how fast they degrade in a variety of circumstances/usage scenarios. That is why they have the warranties with the terms they have. After 8 years expect only to have 70 to 80% left of full capacity. This is another reason you need a bigger battery in a new car than you currently need as you should expect that battery to be 30% less 8 years later.


Assuming a 5kWh increase in energy density from 80 kWh packs (6.25%/year) is relatively conservative.

The same or equivalent (6.25%/year or more) decrease in price, at the pack level should become a reality as soon as mega factories start to produce.

In other words, electrified vehicles manufacturers (and end buyers) should be getting more (EV batteries) for less year after year for the next 10+ years or so.


Tesla has NO warranty on capacity degradation, I see no evidence of extensive accelerated life tests. They say your pack won't die in 8 years, they don't say how much capacity is left.

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SJC if you could tell in advance exactly how you would drive your car, charge your car, in what kind of weather for the next 8 years all that data could be used to calculate a fairly accurate degradation percentage. People do not know that in advance so the degradation percentage after 8 years will of cause vary from usage scenario to usage scenario. However it will also vary with fabrication quality of the battery that is not identical for all battery packs produced and there is no way to tell in advance with any certainty what the quality is. All things produced have defects to a certain degree that will cause the product to last longer or shorter. Same goes with gassers and diesels. Therefore I doubt that any BEV producer will ever give a warranty on the degradation percentage.

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SJC you do have a point. Many potential BEV buyers like yourself will not buy a BEV until they can get a warranty on the battery pack that specifies max battery degradation after 8 years or x miles. Another problem with giving such a warranty is that if people can see after 7 years that they are close to a battery degradation point that may trigger warranty they may start intentionally to wear the battery by supercharging it and parking it in the hot summer sun instead of under a shadow or in a garage. All the more reason for not selling BEVs but instead making self-driving taxi BEVs and sell miles instead of cars.

I am even more convinced that the only way we will ever see mass market BEVs is through self-driving taxi BEVs. Such BEVs are the only one that are economically viable in the low end market, they solve the range anxiety problem as you can always change to a new fully charged BEV taxi and they solve the problem that SJC and many others have about battery degradation anxiety as that can be handled easily and predictably in a large fleet of self-driving taxi BEVs.

Thomas Lankester


I get your points about battery costs and warranty issues but I think you have missed a solution that is already on the market - battery lease as per all Renaults. Battery degradation does not affect the resale price of my car as its covered in the rental agreement. Likewise up front costs. I got a 20 month old Zoe (3k km on the clock) for 9k quid (12k euros). Quite comparable to 'gassers' in the same vehicle class.

Where is the problem?


Great info, Thomas, thanks for posting. Sounds like you got a great deal on a low mileage car. I wish Renault sold the Zoe in the US. Good looking car.

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