Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ford: Hybrids will rule electric fleet


Posted: 12:42 p.m. June 16, 2010 | Updated: 6:54 p.m. today
Ford: Hybrids will rule electric fleet


In a decade, Ford expects that as much as a quarter of its global sales volume will be electrified, with hybrids dominating its electric fleet.

By 2020, Ford expects that between 10% and 25% of its volume will in some way run on advanced batteries compared with about 2% today, Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of global electrification, said at the Automotive News Green Car Conference Wednesday in Novi.

Of those vehicles with batteries, 70% will be hybrids, another 20% to 25% will be plug-in hybrids and the rest will be all-electric vehicles. Gioia noted that the range is wide because there remain unanswered questions about the access to, and affordability of, electrified vehicles.

Hybrids will dominate, she said, because the infrastructure -- charging stations, technologies to strengthen and customize usage of the electric grid -- are in a nascent stage.

Moreover, hybrids -- while more expensive than gas-only powered vehicles -- will be more affordable than plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, which need larger lithium-ion batteries. The cost of lithium-ion batteries remains high, but will come down, Gioia said.

"Customers can see a reasonable payback period, even at $2.80 a gallon," Gioia said

It will be essential for automakers to boost their hybrids and introduce electrified vehicles to meet stricter U.S. fuel economy standards, said Aaron Bragman, auto analyst at IHS Global Insight.

Bragman said all-electric vehicles have "limited appeal beyond the early adopters."

All-electric technology is Nissan's biggest bet, however.

In December, the Japanese automaker will launch the Nissan Leaf, an electric hatchback with a 100-mile range. So far, Nissan has received 14,000 reservations, said Brian Carolin, Nissan's senior vice president of sales and marketing in North America.

Nissan's expectation for electric vehicles outstrips Ford's. The automaker expects that more than 10% of its entire fleet will be all-electric.

Contact JEWEL GOPWANI: 313-223-4550 or


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