Ford C-Max Hybrid (Photo: Ford)
Not too long ago, automakers still regarded the alternative energy vehicle market as uncharted territory.
Today, Ford announced its "Phase II" in electric vehicle development. Via Detroit News, Ford Motor Co., which debuts a total of five plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by the end of the year, will be investing $135 million to design a new electric drive as well as a new battery cell that is capable of doubling energy capacity.
R&D will be performed in-house and Ford has already hired 60 engineers for the task last year, bringing its EV engineering team to more than 1,000 strong. By investing its efforts in research, Ford aims to reduce cost by 30 percent as well as speed development by as much as 25 percent.
Ford Vice President of Powertrain Engineering Joe Bakaj said the goal of the new investments are to provide customers "faster access to Ford's latest and greatest in fuel-saving technologies and vehicles."
While hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles only accounted for 3 percent of all sales last year, Ford projects that the number could increase to as much as 25 percent by 2020. Anxious to get a piece of that pie, Ford will be competing against the likes of Toyota, GM, Nissan, Tesla, and Fisker. For a market that many automakers weren't interested in not too long ago, it sure looks crowded now.
At the moment, Toyota has one hell of a stranglehold on the market, controlling 72 percent of the U.S. hybrid and EV market. With the aggressive influx of new products as well as product development, Ford is committed on turning the tables.
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said to reporters, "We believe that the electrification of vehicles is going to continue as the battery cost comes down, as we move to generate electricity cleanly. We see this as continually growing. This is a long-term journey."