Fields out Hackett in

We woke up to some surprising news this morning: Ford has booted Mark Fields. Although this isn’t official from Ford yet. Fields has always been a car guy; been with Ford for almost 30 years. You could see that a lot of the Ford news over the past year was likely due to him (Focus RS, new GT, etc.).

It is interesting to note near the end of that article:

Executive back-biting and corporate intrigue, enduring staples of an Old Ford that Bill Ford once likened to czarist Russia, re-emerged as the gulf between expectations and financial results widened. Speculation of who might be in, or out, generally failed to capture the sweeping changes Ford’s directors were determined to take from a position of relative strength, not the weakness of 2006.

And, amid expectations that the automaker is on track to book some $9 billion in profits this year, Ford announced plans to offer 1,400 buyouts to salaried employees in North America and Asia — euphemistically described in a company statement as “people efficiencies” — even as it confirmed retention bonuses for four executives.

Wow, didn’t realize it got that bad. That would explain the lack of “show” from Ford these past few years as we’ve only got announcements and nothing to show for them (Ranger and Bronco coming back, new 300 mile EV by 2020..all announcements without anything to show for them not even a hacked up rendering to show what they could look like).

Even more telling is who they put in charge: A relative outsider who was briefly in charge of autonomous cars. Clearly where the board thinks the future (and, more likely, now!) is headed.

A big news day for Ford, time will tell if its the right move. Will things move faster now? Perhaps he’ll try to pull ahead some of the electrified vehicles? (Maybe they’ll have that 300 mile SUV done by the time my lease is up?? One can only hope.)

 

 

Fields out Hackett in

An electric pickup anyone?

Last month Tesla announced that they will be building an electric pickup in a couple of years (give or take right?). Now we have an announcement from a different company making their own electric pickup.

Workhorse (who?), and Ohio based company, has thrown their hat into the EP (electric pickup) ring. This is interesting, an electric pickup with about 80 miles of electric only range (and 310 using the built in range extending gas engine). Can we really call this an EP or is it just a hybrid pickup?

Its the same argument as you would have with the Chevy Volt (or any other PHEV: C-Max Energi, Fusion Energi, Plugin-Prius, etc.). One distinction people frequently use is the question: “Can the gas engine directly drive the wheels?” In all the cases for passenger cars these days that answer is yes (The Volt has a way via some clutches, on the other cars the gas engine is directly coupled to the wheels via a planetary gear set). For this pickup it would appear the answer is no (it has two electric motors; one for each axle). That would make this qualify as an “EREV” (Extended Range Electric Vehicle).

The above is splitting hairs, though. I would purchase an EP if the opportunity allowed (provided it had the specs I’d like: 300 mile EV range, no gas engine, and “small” like an old Ranger–don’t really have a need for a full-size pickup).

This will be interesting to follow as well. The EP wars LOL.

 

An electric pickup anyone?

EVs in the local news

Here is an interesting EV (well charging) article in Detroit’s local Free Press.

The Free Press has, typically, been a bit more friendly to EVs than Detroit’s other paper (The Detroit News). This article reflects that by being pretty balanced in its presentation (and its pretty long with some history to go with it).

In addition, AAA cited a study this week that said more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle as their next car, although “more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to ‘range anxiety.'”

Note that I still don’t think “range anxiety” is a real thing–once you’ve owned and driven an EV you quickly realize what it can and cannot do. Therefore “range anxiety” just becomes something to fear for those that have never experienced an EV.

Companies like Ford and General Motors also tout their own workplace charging networks for employees. Ford says 1,600 employees have registered to use its campus charging network since it was launched in 2014, and that the company has 190 stations (164 in southeast Michigan with 20 more expected in the next month) at 50 locations in the U.S. and Canada. GM says it has more than 500 charging stations across more than 50 U.S. facilities.

Good on Ford–I’m pretty sure I posted about that when they made the announcement adding all the charging stations (at the time the only plugins available from Ford were, and are, the FFE and the Energi vehicles–about time they add some more eh?).

On the whole a pretty decent article (even providing resources to find charging stations)..take a little time to read it.

 

EVs in the local news

Old news is new news

 

Today Ford has been busy reiterating their commitment the electrified vehicles. Today on various social media platforms:

The funny thing about these posts: Many of the people replying to these posts have thought that they are in response to actions of the current administration. They don’t realize that Ford announced this direction over a six months ago now…long before the election (when everyone thought that it would be a different type of presidency).

 

Old news is new news

Focus Electric Fire sale

Hat tip to the Focus Electric Forums: Due to the 2017 FFE having >100 miles of range, the 2016 FFE will be pretty hard to sell. If you look nationwide on Auto Trader you find that there are a bunch of dealers offering them for less than $20,000. Combine that with the Federal rebate of $7500 and you could get a brand new electric car for around $12,000 (mind you a car that, less than four years ago, was selling for $37,000!). (Keep in mind, that if you buy the car, the Federal rebate comes off of your income taxes–you don’t get that as cash back at the time of sale. In addition, if your tax liability is less than $7500 you won’t get the full value. If you lease the car, however, the rebate goes to the leasing company and many of them pass on the savings in the lease.)

Granted this car comes with some caveats, but if you fit the profile it may be worth it.

The big thing to think about with the car is how far you have to drive and how bad are your winters. Start with your required max distance without charge (MDWC). I’m going to use this figure instead of something like “your commute” because people’s commutes vary wildly and some people may have access to charging at work. Thus your MDWC is a given distance in a day that you can be expected to go without having access to a charger.

The second factor to consider is your weather, specifically your winters (a secondary consideration is how hot it gets in the summer, but the FFE’s battery is actively cooled and cooling costs far far less in terms of battery range than heat does so we can neglect high temps to some degree here). If you have really mild winters (say you’re in Atlanta, or Dallas) you won’t have to worry about the lack of range in the cold. On the other hand if you’re a bit further North: Portland, ME, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc. you’ll have to consider that in your “can I use this car” calculations.

Time for some examples: I’ll start with my experience:

My MDWC was 30 miles (couldn’t charge at work, 30 miles is my round-trip commute), living in Detroit I had to be prepared for really cold winters. Frequently when the temps were

I can also use a coworker’s data: his MDWC was 50 miles. He determined the FFE would work–but just barely.

Now lets say someone is in Dallas and has a MDWC of 50 miles. In this case 50 miles really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, except for those rare days where its freezing or below.

The rule of thumb is: Determine how much heat you have to use. If you can get away without using any heat then your MDWC can be as high as 60 miles (or more). If you use marginal heat (the coolest temps your car will see are above 50F) then your MDWC can be as high as about 50 miles. If your coolest temps drop lower then that then your MDWC will also drop. When you get to temps freezing and below your realistic MDWC will drop to about 30-40 miles.

In addition, if you don’t already have a Level 2 EVSE, you’ll have to consider that as well. The FFE will take close to 20 hours to charge an empty battery on a normal 120V house plug. A Level 2 EVSE uses a 240V line (like a dryer, or electric range plug) and can charge up the FFE in as little as 3.5 hours. Prices for a Level 2 EVSE start around $500 or so and go up, and you have to add in any extra electrical work that may be required. You may be thinking that even 3.5 hours is a long time. Remember that is an empty battery. In my case, with my Level 2 I could put enough range back into the FFE to be usable while I cooked dinner.

If you’ve read this far and determine: YEAH! A FFE would be a great car for me, and I love those prices. Don’t be discouraged if the nearest dealer is 500, 1000, or even 2000 miles away. At those prices an extra $500 is worth it to get the car shipped to you.

I would imagine that you’d want to act fast on these if you are even thinking about it since at these prices the limited inventory of 2016 FFE’s won’t last long.

Focus Electric Fire sale

Hey it only took a year

When I first picked up the C-Max I immediately setup a charge profile for home. For some reason, though, it didn’t work the way I had expected. My experience with the Focus Electric was quite positive with respect to the charge profiles–once I had set them up they pretty much worked 99% of the time. The C-Max was different, and after a couple of weeks I finally gave up and deleted my charge locations. I even have at least one post about this.

I’ve been using the method I described in that post ever since. Fast forward to now. Ford has been working on a software update for Sync 3 that includes Android Auto and Apple Car play. This update has been shipping on 2017 model year cars for a while now; its just been taking Ford a while to get the update for the 2016s working/released. Not too long ago a version of this update leaked (really!?). After a few weeks I figured “what the heck I’ll give it a shot”. The update process went pretty smoothly (it is Ford software, not some hack). Android Auto is pretty cool–perhaps that will deserve a post of its own.

With the new software installed I figured I’d play with value charge and charge locations again. Thus I re-setup my home location with a charge window slightly different from the one I setup for the default location. For the next few days when approaching home I would put the radio on the charge setup screen so I could watch which profile it chose to use. This was very enlightening. Turns out something that I had suspected in my post (linked above) is true: On the C-Max the charge now/value charge setting is global. On the Focus Electric that setting was tied to each charge location (so the default charge location could be set to charge now and your home location could be set to value charge). (I also suspect the older software worked this way as well, just my thick head couldn’t figure it out! LOL) Thus now I can leave the default profile set to charge 24/7 and home to the window I want and it should work. On the my ford mobile website, however, it shows the charge now/value charge setting like it is on the Focus; separate:

The really goofy thing about this is that with the setting global it makes it even easier to put the quick flip on the dashboard like the Focus Electric does. The new version of Sync 3 does reduce that change to three clicks from four though.

Hey it only took a year

A year of C-Max

One year down, two to go–at least for the C-Max lease. It took a while but I’m now pretty used to the gas engine kicking in. I find I’m using gas more with colder weather to keep the car warm (in summer the trip meter would hover around 100mpg, in the colder months its more like 50mpg).

The car seems to have a similar quirk to the FFE: If you don’t start it quite right it doesn’t like it. In this case I’ve seen a few times where I didn’t start it and it thought it was only a hybrid (wouldn’t let me select EV Now, or EV Later modes). Turning off the car, opening in a door, and restarting easily clears that condition.Strange not being able to select a mode even when the dash is showing a full battery.

EV only range on the C-Max goes from a pitiful 13 miles or so (cold weather, using climate control) to about 28 miles (80s, no climate or minimal A/C). I would much prefer the car to have a solid 50 miles of summer range. 50 miles would be perfect for my commute–even in winter–it could reduce my gas consumption to virtually zero.

It sits taller than a Focus–more like the dimensions of an Escape (my wife drives a 2014 Escape and we park them next to each other in the garage; they are very similar in size and shape). This means that ingress and egress are much easier than the Focus as there is more room and you don’t have to lower/raise yourself to/from seat level. This alone makes the C-Max a bit more livable than the Focus.

Still, though, I’d give some of that up for a bit more EV range, or a full BEV. Reading many of the EV sites you get the feeling that people just love their EVs and would prefer to have a BEV than a PHEV… I would tend to agree with that. Now if Ford would only release their 300 mile EV SUV in Jaunary of 2019 ;).

 

A year of C-Max