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.)
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).
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 ;).
Now that Ford is making a 300 mile SUV BEV here is a feature that I think would go a long way in making the battery last longer.
For the batteries in today’s EVs one of the killers is the number of cycles, and how long the battery is held at full charge (to alleviate the full charge problem many manufacturers really only charge the battery up to about 90%). On the Focus Electric (FFE) Ford also introduced “Value Charging”. Setup by location this feature allows the owner to basically set what time the car gets charged. Many FFE owners (including myself) used this feature so that the FFE would start charging early in the morning (in my case around 3:00 am or so) so that it was just fully charged when the preconditioning started (and just prior to leaving). On the FFE this was necessary because having only about 70 miles of range it needed to be charged up daily.
On an EV with 300 miles of range it may not be necessary to charge daily–in fact it is better for the battery if it only gets charged to full every 2nd or 3rd day (fewer cycles, and it isn’t held to a full charge for as long).
To solve this issue Ford should introduce a “minimum charge” setting to the value charge feature. This is an extra setting in addition to the charge window (e.g. charge from 3am – 9am). In fact the value charge feature could be tweaked slightly with a target time along with the minimum charge value.
Here is how it would work: Lets say you leave home to go to work every weekday around 7:00 am and your round-trip commute is 50 miles. You could set your home value charge settings to: 6:45am target time and a 33% minimum charge (33% battery = 100 miles or double your commute–giving you some extra driving miles).
This is what the car would do: If the current charge of the battery is above the minimum charge (say its at 45%) then the car would do nothing when plugged in (and if you have precondition set it would use the power from the EVSE for that). If, however, the car’s battery charge is less than the 33% minimum charge then it would charge the car during the value charge window (thus if the value charge window is 11:00pm to 6:45am it would charge the entire time). This would ensure that the car’s charge is above the minimum value set at the target time. It would also ensure that the car isn’t held at a full charge that often (there is no way a level 2 EVSE can charge to full a 300 mile EV in 8 hours).
Lets look at a few days: Suppose the car sat over the weekend and charged to full (since the value charge for Saturday and Sunday just says “charge away”).
- No charging overnight Sunday-Monday
- No charging overnight Monday-Tuesday as the car is at 75%
- No charging overnight Tuesday-Wednesday as the car is at 45% (you did some extra driving around)
- Charges overnight Wednesday-Thursday as the car was at 28%, but since it only charged for about 8 hours it only brought the battery up to ~60%
- No charging overnight Thursday-Friday as the car was 35%
Ford should also keep the easy flip between Value Charge and Charge Now that the FFE has–that was really handy (my C-Max doesn’t have it and its a pain). The quick flip: When you turned off the FFE the right display would show a menu for a few seconds allowing you to flip the current charge location from Value Charge to Charge Now or back with a simple two button press (to do this in the C-Max requires a multi-step process on the center screen before shutting off).
As you can see above in the example this feature would reduce the number of weekly charge cycles from daily (7 or more) down to two or three and effectively manage the charge state of the battery automatically; all the owner would have to do is plug in every time they got home. Easy peasy 😉
What is this:
Hmm Who are you Ford and what happened to you??
Wireless charging too; wow.
A hybrid Mustang, a BEV SUV!? Someone has been smoking there at Ford! LOL
I’m anxiously awaiting these new Ford developments….
Update: A news article on the press conference:
Update 2: Another article with details about the EVs: (not much more than the article above, however)
Here we are on the eve of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS, aka The Detroit Auto Show). Rumors are pointing to Ford announcing what is going into the Michigan Assembly Plant once the cars are gone off to Mexico.
Ford has not announced anything yet about this but there is a lot of hubub in the press about Ford building Rangers and Bronco’s there in the future. The NAIAS is the perfect spot to announce this and, as it has the past few years, Ford has reserved Joe Lewis Arena for their unveil during the press days.
Here is where my wild speculation comes in: What if Ford offered some sort of EV powertrain with the new Ranger. A complete lineup of engines available in the new Ranger:
- A standard, good old V-6
- A 2.0L Ecoboost engine (like in the Escape, Fusion, etc.)
- A hybrid powertrain (next generation from the Fusion/C-Max Energi and slightly larger)
- A BEV one (again an electric motor moderately larger than the Focus’ one with enough battery for 150 miles or so)
They could offer a Ranger for everyone and the plant is already setup for building hybrids and BEVs. One of the big problems with this is that the BEV ranger would have to have a pretty big battery (note that the Bolt already has a 60 kWh battery) which would be a major factor in the cost to produce and the price to customers. A mini-pickup is going to weigh more than a Bolt and thus using just a 60 kWh battery will net a range much shorter than the Bolt (which is kind of why I stated above 150 miles of range).
If economics and size/weight would allow a battery large enough for 200 miles and still be reasonably priced (less than $40k anyone??) it would probably be a hit (a EV mini-pickup with 200 mile range under $35k after fed rebates would be pretty enticing–I’d buy one in a heartbeat).
They would own that marked for a while (much like Chrysler does now with the new Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan).
Now lets talk reality: If we see a new ranger this year (2017) I can pretty confidently say there won’t be a hybrid or BEV version shown at all. It is fun to speculate from time to time though.
Note that all of the above is speculation and rumor..nothing official has been announced by Ford on any of this.
The question is: Where is Ford in this market?
The answer is: being left in the dust.
What market is that? The 200+ mile EV club. Granted the only members in the club right now is Tesla, but Chevy is knocking at the door with the Bolt.
If this review is any indication the Bolt is going to be a hit. You can spend hours debating if the Model 3 is “going to kill Chevy” or that the Bolt “will be the death knell of Tesla”. Personally I’d hedge towards Chevy: If the Bolt is as good as that review indicates then with a solid year (plus?) lead on the market it will give Tesla some solid competition.
The next few years promises to be exciting ones if you are an EV enthusiast.
So again: Where is Ford?