Ford’s Hybrid & Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Arrival

Ford has not historically been a leader in hybrid or electric vehicle technology. Toyota and Honda very clearly led the introduction of mass-market hybrid electric vehicles. More recently, Nissan and GM have led the burgeoning 100% electric and plug-in electric vehicle markets. But maybe Ford actually had a strategy. (Yes, I generally give people the benefit of the doubt.) Maybe it was just waiting for these markets to heat up? (OK, yes, the conventional hybrid market heated up several years ago.)

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid
2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid
Ford’s C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid models are legitimate contenders in the conventional hybrid electric vehicle market now. As such, they have been selling very well. In the first half of 2013, 38,141 units of the two models were sold in total. This doesn’t come close to the dominant Toyota Prius hybrid models, which saw 116,000 sales, but it is a huge increase and I think a very good total for new models.

At the end of 2012, Ford also introduced plug-in electric vehicle models of these two cars — the Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi. They aren’t matching Chevy Volt sales, but they are getting up there. In the first half of 2013, 4,066 units of the PHEVs were sold (compared to 9,855 Chevy Volts). Not bad at all.

Ford’s high hybrid and PHEV sales were the top story of my May EV sales update. Ford also decided recently that this portion of its lineup was worth highlighting. It hosted a webinar about its “electrified vehicle momentum” earlier this month, and it also sent out a press release with a lot of interesting facts. Here’s a bullet-point list from Ford:

  • Ford’s share of U.S. electrified vehicle market grows to nearly 16 percent during first half of 2013, a 12-point gain over the same period last year – supporting the company’s nearly 1-point increase in overall U.S. market share, the biggest gain of any full-line automaker
  • Ford electrified vehicle sales help drive coastal growth, including the largest retail share increase in California of any brand this year; top trade-in for new Ford C-MAX Hybrid is Toyota Prius, which has seen a 5 percent drop in sales
  • Committed to continuously improving fuel economy, Ford is enhancing the on-road fuel economy performance of its 2013-model hybrid vehicles
  • Ford also expanding electrification engineering jobs by nearly 50 percent and investing $50 million in electrified vehicle development centers to further its commitment to deliver leading fuel economy across its lineup

Ford also noted that the company saw “electrified vehicle sales of 46,197 units through June — more than 400 percent higher than the same period a year ago,” and that “64 percent of C-MAX Hybrid buyers came from non-Ford brands.”

“Strong consumer acceptance of Ford hybrids shows that our plan to lead in fuel economy across our lineup is working,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Our commitment to deliver great fuel economy in our cars, utilities and trucks is a key reason we are seeing strong growth in coastal markets and with import buyers.”

There are four final stats that I think are quite uplifting and good to see. Ford’s electrification engineering team is projected to increase nearly 50% in 2013. It is supposed to grow by about 500 salaried employees. The American automobile company is supposed to invest $50 million more into electrified product development and testing centers in Dearborn, Michigan this year. And it will “double electrification battery-testing capabilities by the end of the year — to a total of 160 individual battery-test cells — helping to speed hybrid and electric vehicle development by as much as 25 percent.”

Of course, this is all excellent to see. And it’s also nice to see that Ford is so proud of this move.

“All of us at Ford remain absolutely committed to offering customers a choice of leading fuel-efficient vehicles – from EcoBoost®-powered gasoline engines and hybrids to plug-in hybrids and electrified vehicles.”

Ford wasn’t the first to dive into hybrid electric vehicle or plug-in electric vehicle technology, but it is one of the largest automobile companies in the world, so it’s great to see this American corporate giant doing so now!

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