Ford Wants You to Know: They're Not Back-tracking on EVs

A few days ago, I posted an article about some comments Bill Ford made at the ECO:nomics conference in California.  Comments which, by some accounts, seemed to imply that Ford was pessimistic about the future of electric cars in the US.  A few days later, I received an email from Ford Corporate Communications, telling me I (and, by extension, my sources) had gotten the story wrong.

Rather than paraphrase and inadvertently skew the message one way or another, I’ve included Ford’s email in its entirety, below.

While I respect your editorial opinion, the post on Ford/EVs is contrary to the message Bill sent at the WSJ ECO:nomics conference.

I understand you may not have the opportunity to hear the entire WSJ ECO:nomics interview, but can share a little more info below …

Ford Motor Company is very much committed to electric vehicles – battery-powered, traditional hybrids and plug in hybrids.  At the conference, he stated that we’re continuing to work on all of the technologies because it isn’t clear yet which will be the leading technology embraced by customer.

You may recall that Ford Motor Company recently announced that it was increasing its work in electric vehicles – with the introduction of the Focus Electric (battery electric) and addition of the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and C-MAX traditional hybrid.  Ford’s strategy is to electrify platforms – versus a single vehicle – to offer customers the most choice.  Five electrified vehicles are planned for North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013 – C-MAX Hybrid, another next-generation hybrid sedan vehicle, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, Transit Connect Electric and Focus Electric.

Unfortunately we don’t have a transcript  to send from ECO:nomics – as it wasn’t a  formal speech, but rather a Q&A with the WSJ’s Jeff Ball.

The original WSJ article, gives a clearer picture of the conversation:  HERE.

I can understand it’s hard to know the whole story not being there … but if you have the opportunity to update the post, we’d certainly appreciate the effort in clarifying this for your readers.

Of course, I pointed out that it wasn’t my conclusions being highlighted in the original article – rather, they were Bertell Schmitt’s.  My exact words to Ford’s rep:  “Schmitt is highly respected in bloggerdom, so his interpretation of the WSJ quotes are, I think, newsworthy.  The counter-point is very welcome, as we all hope to see (more!) alt-fuel Fords coming in the near future … especially the global Ranger.”

I still stand by my opinion of Schmitt’s interpretation, though, and – while the WSJ article does paint a more “neutral” picture, it’s still very clear in the WSJ that Ford isn’t betting big (and not necessarily betting its own money) on the electric vehicle market in the same way that say, Mitsubishi is.  Time will tell, I suppose, whether or not the big winners will be companies that hedge their bets with a mix of alt-fuel, EV, and improved gasoline engines, or companies that go “all-in” on electrics.

If it were my money?  I’d bet the Dark Side and build plug-in hybrids with E100-capable flex-fuel ICEs (but that’s just me).

Source:  Susan Kruse, with Ford Corporate Communications.


Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.