Fields: Ford making long-range EV to rival GM, Tesla

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is working on a long-range electric vehicle to rival the 200-mile Tesla Model 3 and General Motors Co. Bolt EV, President and CEO Mark Fields confirmed Thursday.

Earlier in the month, Ford’s head of electric vehicles told Automotive News the company was content with its 100-mile range upcoming 2017 Focus Electric, but when asked directly about a 200-mile EV, Fields said Ford wants to be at the top of the segments in which it competes regarding cost, quality and range.

“Our EVs come down to making sure we’re the best or among the leaders in those areas,” Fields said on a conference call. “When you look at some of the competition, clearly that’s something we’re developing for.”

Tesla made waves last month when it unveiled its much-hyped Model 3, which will start at $35,000 before federal and state incentives. Tesla says the car will have a range of 215 miles per charge and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Tesla wants to bring it to market by the end of 2017, but the automaker has faced many product delays.

Ford’s crosstown rival, General Motors Co., plans to launch its 200-mile range Bolt EV this year. It will cost about $30,000 after federal incentives.

“It’s ironic that we’re seeing a new rush to pure EVs with a realistic driving range, even as fuel prices in the U.S. are at record lows,” Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said. “It will be a true test of the technology, and the concept of 200 miles being a sufficient range, if consumers embrace these models in a world of sub-$3-a-gallon gasoline. Ford’s commitment to an all-new, pure EV will also spur competition in this area. I fully expect similar announcements from Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and VW in the coming months.”

Ford said in December it will invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicle research and add 13 new EVs or hybrids by 2020 to give buyers more choices and to conform to strict federal fuel-efficiency standards. It’s Ford’s biggest investment in the technology to date, to be spread over five-years.

Ford’s current portfolio includes six hybrid or all-electric vehicles across its Ford and Lincoln brands. By 2020, Ford said 40 percent of its nameplates worldwide will be electrified, up from about 13 percent today.

Ford’s long-range electric car could be called the Model E. Tesla owner Elon Musk wanted to name the recently announced Model 3 the Model E, but was unable to secure the naming rights from Ford, which has owned the patent for that name for some time.

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