Just a few days ago, we reported on how Ford Motor Company is content with electric cars that have only 100 miles of range. Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, told the SAE World Convention in Detroit earlier this month his company has no plans to join the electric car range race. Perhaps he should have checked with the boss first.
During a conference call with investors on Thursday, Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO, said his company positively, absolutely will build an electric car with at least 200 miles of range. “We want to make sure that we’re either among the leaders or in a leadership position,” he said. “When you look at some of the competitors and what they’ve announced, clearly, that’s something we’re developing for.”
Fields offered no specifics, however. Any claim that it is leading the field is ludicrous on its face. At best, Ford is more than a lap behind Chevrolet and about 2 laps behind Tesla. Fields may be trying to put a brave face on things, but the fact it that Ford is nothing more than a “me, too” company when it comes to electric cars.
Ford is planning to introduce an assortment of plug-in hybrid models in the near future, however. One of those may be called the Model E, a small car the company plans to build at a new factory in Mexico. According to reports, the Model E will be capable of being powered by multiple power trains depending on market demands. Hyundai is pursuing a similar strategy with its new Ioniq.
The problem Ford has is the same all legacy automakers have. They are making money hand over fist selling large SUV’s and trucks. The reason Fields was chatting with analysts yesterday was to share with them the good news. Ford had the highest first quarter net income in the company’s history, thanks to strong sales of its F series pickups and Explorer SUVs.
In an era of ridiculously low gas prices, consumers are voting with their wallets and buying the biggest, thirstiest vehicles they can find and in record numbers. How is Ford supposed to say “No, thank you,” to those customers and focus on small sedans that nobody wants? Tis a conundrum. For now, Ford and others can be expected to pay lip service to the idea of electric cars, but continue to build what sells. No responsible capitalist would do it any different.
If Ford is planning on being an electric car leader, it is keeping its plans well hidden and out of public view.
Source: Bloomberg Photo credit: Ford