Ford Invests $4.5 Billion To Further Electrify Its Lineup
Ford is going full blast in its pursuit of adding an entire fleet of electric vehicles, after announcing that it would be investing an additional $4.5 billion in its electrified vehicle program. The amount represents the biggest investment the company has made in anything related to electric cars in a five-year period.
The Detroit-based automaker has made it a personal mission to expand its electric car lineup by the year 2020. If the company gets its way, it would have a total of 13 new electrified vehicles by the turn of the decade, accounting for more than 40 percent of its total lineup.
The model that will kick start this upheaval is the new Focus Electric, which is scheduled to start production in late 2016. The Focus Electric will come with a variety of new features, highlighted by an all-new DC fast-charge capability that cuts the charging time of the batteries by more than two hours compared to the current version. This is made possibly by the tech’s capacity to deliver an 80-percent charge in just a little over 30 minutes with its projected 100-mile range. The new Focus Electric will also feature a SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD instrument cluster and a Brake Coach, a new feature that essentially “coaches” the driver on how to properly utilize smooth braking to help maximize the energy captured through the car’s Regenerative Braking System.
In addition to the increased attention in electric cars, Ford also plans to invest $2.1 million in a battery lab at the University of Michigan to boost research and development. The company also plans to expand battery development, presumably with the goal of opening factories in Europe and Asia that’s dedicated to the development of the technology.
As electric vehicles become more and more popular, there’s no doubt that this new round of investment in EV technology is Ford’s way of saying that it’s embracing the increasing demand for cleaner and more efficient vehicles.
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Why it matters
If there ever was a blueprint on how to emphatically make your intentions known to the industry, announcing a new investment of $4.5 billion is a good way to go about it. The amount itself is huge, but it’s arguably not the most important part of this announcement from Ford. I think it’s more important that Ford is really showing a commitment to embracing electric vehicles. It’s not going to be evident in the near future, but if the American automaker really sees this through, it’s not far-fetched for Ford to accomplish its goal of having a lineup of cars with a significant number of EV models.
Far more than its promise of building more electric cars in the future, Ford is also planning to reinvent its production process by focusing more on customer experience instead of simply directing its full attention to the vehicles. This is still an admittedly vague proclamation, but the company said that a big part of this production shift will be tied into social science-based research that will be done on a global scale. This involves making key observations on how customers interact with their vehicles.
Apparently, Ford thinks that these interactions will be able to provide key insights that can have a positive effect in the production of its future models. Quantitatively, this new method will include doubling the number of projects that use ethnographic research compared to the amount of projects done using that method this year.
Ford’s also putting a new twist on how its designers sketch prospective models. Instead of the tried-and-tested method of simply putting pen to paper, the company will begin to turn these sketches into what it describes as “full customer experience illustrations”.
There’s definitely a lot of things going on in Ford these days as it begins to strap up and prepare for the future. As a fan of the company, it’s nice to see that the company is laying its plans on the table for everyone to see. That’s going to put a sense of accountability on those involved to live up to these promises.
Read our full review on the Ford Focus Electric here.