SHANGHAI, China – Ford's vision of a sustainable future was put on show to nearly 300 journalists in China yesterday ahead of Auto Shanghai 2011, the biggest car show in the region.
During Ford’s New Energy Conference at the Shanghai Fashion Centre, Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, and Nancy Gioia, Ford Motor Company's director of Global Electrification, said that while New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) today comprised just one per cent of Ford's global sales, they expected that by 2020 electrified vehicles would form 10 to 25 per cent of the company’s global sales.
Hinrichs and Gioia shared the stage with three NEVs that are part of a demonstration fleet being brought to China this year, and which use three different types of technology; the Fusion Hybrid, which is already America's most fuel efficient mid-size sedan; the C-MAX Energi, Ford's first ever plug-in hybrid; and the battery powered Focus Electric, Ford's first zero-emissions passenger car.
"New Energy Vehicles are a critical part of Ford's strategy," Hinrichs said in an interview with @Ford. "In the near term, we're providing an opportunity to electrify our global platform, giving us the flexibility to go one direction or another based on capability and consumer needs. In the long term, working from the global platform gives us the volume and scale to compete at a price point that will attract more customers."
Henry Ford, together with Thomas Edison, first developed an electric car in 1913, but by the 1930s the concept had been defeated by the high cost relative to cars powered by internal combustion engines, Gioia told journalists. Ford's new generation of electrified vehicles was able to overcome some of the higher production costs by using the same components across several different platforms. That meant that the company could develop several different types of NEVs at the same time, and keep its options open as consumers become familiar with the new technologies.
"A key part of our strategy is the sharing of components between our hybrid and our plug-in hybrid. We actually use the exact same motor, generator, converter, and many other components. They are not similar – they are identical. That helps with volume, scale and quality, and ultimately the affordability for the consumer," said Gioia.
Unlike some of its competitors, Ford is taking a broad approach in developing hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric technologies, which would be suited to customers in different situations.
"We have to have customer driven solutions. If somebody lives in a densely populated city and doesn't drive many miles, a battery electric vehicle could be perfect. If they have a lot of city driving and some distance driving on weekends, a plug-in vehicle may be perfect. If they don't have access to charge infrastructure but still want the benefit of fuel efficiency, the hybrid will work," said Gioia.
"As these technologies roll out, we are electrifying our highest volume global platforms – the benefit is that we don't have to be perfect in guessing where the market will go. We produce these down the same line, work with the same suppliers, and educate our workforce, consumers and dealer network simultaneously – so as one type is needed more in one region than another, we will have the technology ready to go in the most affordable and sustainable way."
Auto Shanghai 2011 runs from April 21-28 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.
Please click here to view photos from the event.
Please click here to view a video of the event.