Ford Motor plans to increase its investment in electric and hybrid vehicles by $4.5 billion (£3bn) over the next five years, while adding 13 electric cars to its range by 2020 and expanding research into batteries, the company has announced.
In five years’ time more than 40 percent of the company’s models will come in electric versions, chief executive Mark Fields told a press conference late last week.
Ford plans to kick off the new range of vehicles with the 2017 Ford Focus Electric, which is to start production in late 2016 and is to feature a battery with a 100-mile range that can charge to 80 percent in 30 minutes, about two hours faster than the current Focus Electric.
The vehicle will be Ford’s first with the fast-charging capability.
Plug-in electric vehicles draw power from the grid, rather than recharging with power from an internal combustion engine.
Fields said the company sees plug-in hybrid systems, which combine electric power from the grid with a back-up internal combustion engine, as the model that will be preferred by most customers looking for electric vehicles. The batteries for such cars are less expensive and lighter-weight than those required to deliver a range of 200 miles or more in an all-electric vehicle, he said.
Ford said separately that it has expanded its electric vehicle research and development programme in Europe and Asia as part of a move to boost sales in China, Taiwan and Korea.
The company has hired more than 120 engineers for its Michigan-based electric car programme, and has funded a $9m battery lab at the University of Michigan, which opened in 2013.
Audi of America, Porsche and Volvo have recently announced electric car plans.
Nissan’s Leaf is currently the top-selling motorway-capable electric car, with worldwide sales of more than 180,000 units as of June 2015, according to the company, followed by the Tesla Model S, which had sold about 90,000 units as of October, according to industry analysts.
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