Ford Plans Long-Range Electric Car to Compete With Model 3 and Bolt

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has Ford playing catchup in electric cars

Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce a long-range electric vehicle to compete with battery-powered models coming from Tesla Motors Inc. and General Motors Co. that would go 200 miles or more on a charge.

“We want to make sure that we’re either among the leaders or in a leadership position," Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields told analysts and reporters on a conference call Thursday. “When you look at some of the competitors and what they’ve announced, clearly, that’s something we’re developing for." He didn’t say when Ford would start producing the vehicle.

Ford joins a growing field of automakers seeking to overcome consumer fears that electric cars will run out of juice and strand them. GM plans a debut this fall for the Chevrolet Bolt, a hatchback it says will have a range of at least 200 miles (322 kilometers). Reports indicate Nissan Motor Co.’s next-generation Leaf car will match that distance. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the $35,000 Model 3 slated for late 2017 will go 215 miles or more between plug-ins.

Ford, which recently paid almost $212,000 to buy one of the first Tesla Model X electric sport utility vehicles, is clearly paying attention to the Palo Alto, California-based maker of electric vehicles. Tesla was deluged with $1,000 reservations for the Model 3 after Musk revealed it March 31 at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California.

“I’m glad Mark Fields is saying Ford will be a leader and match whatever EV range is out there," said David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, who rates Ford the equivalent of a buy. “You can’t just ignore Tesla getting 400,000 reservations on a vehicle in a little more than a week’s time."

Research shows that more consumers will be willing to buy an electric vehicle as driving range grows to 200 miles and the price falls below $30,000. Automakers are under pressure to improve the fuel economy of their entire lineups to meet U.S. regulations that mandate a company’s fleet must average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Ford has said it is investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles and will add 13 electric cars and hybrids to its lineup by 2020. Those models will represent 40 percent of Ford’s showroom, up from 13 percent now. Fields has said plug-in hybrids will be the fastest-growing type of electric vehicle.

This of course is before graphene ultracapacitors replace lithium ion batteries in vehicles. A Spanish company is claiming they have had a breakthrough with graphene (recall rumor of this on our rumors page) and are going to market this year with graphene ultracapacitors for electric bikes, electric motorcycles, and electric cars that recharge in minutes and have triple the range.

Recharge time is less than 1-minute – much faster than filling your tank with gasoline. The life of the graphene battery (ultracapacitor) is 4 times longer than a lithium ion battery. It has a storage density of 1 kWh/kg (4 to 8 times more than a Li-ion battery). Its volume is 20% to 30% of that of a Li-ion battery (3 to 5 times smaller). Once they hit the market enmass, you can stick a fort in fossil fuel burning cars.

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