Ford showed its continued commitment to electric-hybrid vehicles earlier this week by announcing a $135 million investment in the design, engineering, and production of key components for hybrid-electric vehicles in 2013. Ford says this will include the development and production of new and more advanced battery systems for its next generation of hybrid-electric vehicles. The investment will also help Ford double its battery-testing capabilities, giving the company a total of 160 individual battery-test channels. These testing machines allow Ford to test and simulate everything from power and performance to battery life and thermal behavior over a variety of temperatures and operating conditions.
Increased battery testing also allows Ford to bring everything from research, development, and production of electrified vehicle systems in-house. Ford’s early hybrid models contained batteries that involved third parties throughout the design and testing phases. By doubling its battery-testing capabilities, Ford’s executive technical leader of Energy Storage and HV Systems claims that projects involving hybrid-electric batteries can be completed at least 25% faster than they were with previous-generation systems.
Ford is also dedicating a 285,000-square-foot research and development facility down the street from its Dearborn, Mich., headquarters almost entirely to the development of hybrid-electric vehicles and technology. The building, formally known as the Advanced Engineering Center, will be renamed the Ford Advanced Electrification Center and will house more than 1,000 engineers who will work specifically on hybrid and electrification programs.
Ford is also planning on making their hybrid platforms more affordable for consumers in 2012 by reducing the cost of its current hybrid systems by 30%, versus the company’s previous generation systems. The company will launch five different electrified vehicles for the 2013 model year that include one pure electric vehicle, two hybrids, and two plug-in hybrids.
Ford’s C-MAX platform will debut this year on U.S. soil as both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid model. The Prius competitor is promised to deliver a 47 mpg on highways and 47 mph in the city. A plug-in hybrid model, dubbed the C-MAX Energi, is expected this fall, and will arrive with a projected electric-mode 95 mpg, and a total range of 550 miles. The all-new Fusion Hybrid is also expected to hit showrooms this fall with a projected 47 mpg. A plug-in hybrid version of the new Fusion will begin production by the end of 2012, and it will also carry the Energi moniker. The Ford is hoping that it will be the most fuel-efficient midsized car in the world. The company’s pure electric vehicle, the Focus Electric, has been in production since late 2011 and offers 110 MPGe. The company also boasts that with an available 240-volt charging station, the Focus Electric can be recharged in nearly half the time as its competitor the Nissan Leaf.