DEARBORN - A significant increase in Ford’s market share of electrified vehicles in the U.S., up 12 points over this time last year for a total market share of 16 percent, is proof demand for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles is strong. As a result, Ford continues to plan for the future by doubling its team of electrification engineers and expanding the electrified vehicle research facilities to aid the expected continued growth of the segment.
In total, Ford sold 46,197 electrified vehicles in the first six months of the year – an increase of more than 400 percent over the same period in 2012. Leading the electrified vehicle sales charge are the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.
“Strong consumer acceptance of Ford hybrids shows that our plan to lead in fuel economy across our lineup is working,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Our commitment to deliver great fuel economy in our cars, utilities and trucks is a key reason we are seeing strong growth in coastal markets and with import buyers.”
Polk retail registration data shows Ford is growing coastal retail share faster than any other automotive brand – up more than a full percentage point for the first half of the year compared to a year ago.
The effect on imports is also being felt. The Toyota Prius is the most commonly traded in vehicle for consumers purchasing a C-MAX. Also, while Ford’s market share of electrified vehicles has been on the rise, Prius sales declined five percent in the first half of 2013.
To solidify Ford’s commitment to continuous improvement the company will offer software upgrades aimed at improving the fuel economy and performance of 2013 models already on the road including C-MAX Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Nair said the enhancements should take a half-day or less to implement depending on each dealership. Letters detailing specifics will be mailed to owners at the end of July. Owners are encouraged to contact their local dealership to determine the best time to schedule an appointment.
The same upgrades will be made to unsold inventory on dealer lots.
The software enhancements will:
• Increase the maximum pure electric speed to 85 mph from 62 mph for increased use of electric-only mode on the highway
• Optimize the use of Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under more driving and temperature conditions including cold weather, during air conditioner use and when engine coolant temperature is higher
• Reduce the electric fan speed as a function of coolant temperature to minimize the fan’s energy consumption
• Shorten engine warm-up time by up to 50 percent to enable electric-only driving and engine shutdown at stops sooner after cold starts
• Optimize the climate control system to minimize use of the air conditioning compressor and reduce the energy used in cold weather operation
“We are continuously committed to improving the fuel economy of our vehicles,” said Nair. “We believe these actions will provide our customers enhanced on-road fuel economy satisfaction.”
This year Ford will also expand its electrified engineering team by nearly 50 percent to 500 salaried employees and double electrified battery-testing capabilities to accelerate hybrid and electric vehicle development by as much as 25 percent.
“This investment in new engineers and expanded facilities helps us prepare for growth,” said Nair. “All of us at Ford remain absolutely committed to offering customers a choice of leading fuel-efficient vehicles – from EcoBoost®-powered gasoline engines and hybrids to plug-in hybrids and electrified vehicles.”