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Friday, April 29, 2016

Ford CEO confirms plans for long-range electric car

Ford CEO Mark Fields said the Dearborn automaker will not be left behind in the race to develop long-range electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt that can go 320 km (200 miles) or more on a single charge.

“We want to make sure that we’re either among the leaders or in a leadership position,” Fields said during a conference call Thursday with analysts. “When you look at some of the competitors and what they’ve announced, clearly, that’s something we’re developing for.”

The Chevrolet Bolt will have a range of at least 320 km and a starting price of about $27,000 when it goes on sale later this year.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk generated global buzz when he unveiled the Tesla Model 3 earlier this month. That car is expected to have 345 km (215 miles) of range and will go on sale in late 2017 at a starting price of $35,000.

“I’m glad Mark Fields is saying Ford will be a leader and match whatever EV range is out there,” said David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, who rates Ford the equivalent of a buy. “You can’t just ignore Tesla getting 400,000 reservations on a vehicle in a little more than a week’s time.”

Research shows that more consumers will be willing to buy an electric vehicle as driving range grows to 200 miles and the price falls below $30,000. Automakers are under pressure to improve the fuel economy of their entire lineups to meet U.S. regulations that mandate a company’s fleet must average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Earlier this month, Automotive News reported that the automaker was satisfied with its 2017 Focus Electric that will get 160 km (100 miles) on a full charge, saying that vehicle will satisfy a large chunk of consumers.

Fields didn’t say when Ford plans to launch a vehicle to match Tesla's Model 3 or the Chevrolet Bolt, but made it clear Ford is pressing forward.

He did reiterate Ford's plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next four years to develop 13 new hybrid or electric vehicles.

"Our approach, very simply, is to make sure we are among the leaders or in a leadership position in the product segments that we are in," Fields said.

Ford Motor Company are collaborating with Xerox PARC and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop pouch cells with a 20% improvement in gravimetric energy density (Wh/kg), and a 30% reduction in $/kWh costs for electric vehicles.

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