Ford Pitches Electrification on All European Models

Ford is playing catch-up in the race to electrify its range promising to have an electrified version of every model in its European range.

It did this during another one of its staged Go Further events to present its pitch of future powertrain strategies this time in Amsterdam, or rather, just outside in the city’s suburb of Halfweg. Possibly to sweeten its message, Ford chose a stripped out 19th Century sugar factory big enough to roll out several of its latest models including the first sight in Europe of its full-size Explorer SUV launched as a plug-in hybrid.

This big beast will sport a combination of Ford’s 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 gasoline engine, electric motor and generator delivering a combined power of 450 PS and 840 Nm of torque and claiming a range of more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) on pure-electric energy. Emerging from the dry ice on stage, it summed up the Ford message outlined by new chairman of Ford of Europe, Steven Armstrong. He said: “Advances in technology, connectivity and electrification have unleashed a wave of innovation on a scale not seen since Henry Ford revolutionized our industry four generations ago.

“It’s an exciting and an inspiring time. However, customers still have concerns about electrification and not just range anxiety but also perceived lack of power and a reduction in driving excitement. Ford has an unique take on that challenge. We’ve made sure that we don’t just electrify the car, we electrify the driving experience by making it even more pleasurable by delivering more power and, as you’d expect from Ford, great handling.”

Off-road Mustang

Here the carmaker is trying to drum up excitement for its latest concept a BEV Mustang inspired SUV, of all things, revealing the first official rendition of a through-a-glass-darkly image of the car displaying the Mustang’s signature triple lens tail-lights.

Armstrong eulogized: “This is a car for the serious battery-head, a car to capture the imagination and raise the pulse. Our Mustang-inspired electric performance SUV which will electrify in every way – exciting to look at, brilliant to drive and this thing really goes like hell.

“It will have a range of up to 600 kilometers (370 miles) and will redefine what is possible from an electric vehicle delivering one of the highest ranges on the WLTP guidelines. It’s a car that configures itself round you, it responds to you and even predicts your needs. It comes with an ownership experience that does exactly the same.”

He said the fear that electrification will strips cars of the sort of emotional influence they currently can hold on customers is not one held by Ford. “They are worried that the sheer joy of driving will be a thing of the past,” said Armstrong. “Our view is quite the opposite. We see electrified powertrains as an opportunity to not just make the vehicles more efficient but also much more exciting to bring the thrill of driving to the next level. We are making electrification relevant and obtainable to all consumers not just the privileged few.”

The other stand-out BEV was our first view of the Ford Transit all-electric LCV concept that is due to reach the market by 2021 following trials carried out in London. Yet, one question the amassed executives could not answer was what would Ford’s policy on battery pack ownership be?

It remains silent on whether the vehicle’s owner will buy the pack with the vehicle or it be leased on a monthly payment basis as with most Renault and Nissan products. Naturally, this decision could be a deal maker-breaker especially for fleet managers calculating the usable life of a vehicle with a degrading lithium-ion battery pack.

Electric range

Looking more broadly across the market, Ford is committed to providing mild hybrid, including a diesel version for its EcoBlue Transit, full self-charging hybrid and plug-in hybrids on top of the BEV vehicles to consumers in the European market. Armstrong explained: “We are seizing the opportunity of letting our customers benefit from better fuel efficiency, lower fuel bills and to let society benefit from cleaner, quieter cities and from letting the climate benefit from lower levels of CO2.

“Underpinning everything, is electrification. This technology has matured significantly in recent years and electrified vehicles are entering the mainstream. Though the market is still relatively small, it’s growing fast and in 10 years from now it will account for half of all new vehicles sold.

“The options are expanding so fast that consumers are looking for the right path – they don’t want to be blinded by the technology. They want vehicles that simply make their lives better and in a way that is easily attainable and highly enjoyable.

“When we talk to them about their real needs we find there is a level of electrification to suit everyone. As a result we have devised a suite of electrified vehicles that are tailored to those needs right across our European product portfolio. From the Fiesta all the way to the Transit, we will offer an obtainable electrified option for every single Ford nameplate.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

 


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