Its been a while since I’ve written (complained?) about Ford. Is there any news to speak of with Ford and EVs?
Why yes, yes there is. A few years ago Ford had promised big things about “electrifying” much of their fleet. In the interim they haven’t really shown anything other than a few notes here and there on announcements just to keep it in people’s minds (a sentence on a presentation, buying a train station!?, etc.).
Today, now, we have a Lincoln with a plug coming out, a hybrid Explorer, and now an announcement that there will be a BEV F-150 (yeah ok more bluster but there maybe something here…shall we dig).
This is rather big news that Ford is officially saying they will make a BEV F-150. Perhaps the fact that Tesla has sold a ton of Model 3’s and are poised to make a EV pickup “really soon now” (Tesla timeframe LOL).
Perhaps its that there is another EV pickup going to appear on the market in a year or so?
Oh wait there is more than one EV pickup coming to market soon (well ok one may be a bit further out than the other ! LOL).
The F-150 is Ford’s bread and butter. Taking on all competition and crushing them (even with new entries from leading competitors GM and RAM they are still outselling them). Now along comes a few upstarts, in the past Ford may have thought of them as simple gnats to be slapped away but its a brave new world now where an EV car can sell almost 140,000 copies in a year. You have to take every competitor seriously.
The trick, for Ford, is that the F-150 BEV has to be at least as compelling as the traditional F-150 or its going to fail against the competitors. Exciting times are ahead if you’re a EV fan and a pickup fan (personally I think Ford should also make a Ranger BEV; it may be a more compelling option).
I’ve heard some comments that the Bolt has “that funky EV look”? Really, or are you predisposed to think it looks funky because it is an EV?
Lets compare its looks to a contemporary CUV from a competing manufacturer (yeah ok a Ford Escape LOL):
Not that it really isn’t that much smaller, perhaps an inch or two smaller in height and length. The hood is definitely smaller which stands to reason since you don’t need that much room for the electric motor.
The roofline is about the same (and pretty much looks like all CUV’s these days). I’d argue that the rear window having a little bit more of an angle than the Escape gives it a slightly sportier look..but that is splitting hairs.
Interior wise: there is a lot less room for stuff in the hatchback but that may be because there is tons of legroom in the rear seat–much more than available in the Escape.
To my eyes it just looks like another on of the millions of CUV’s on the road–its most distinguishing feature is how they put the “Bolt EV” name above the front quarter panel.
Here we are, February 2018 already. Wow its been 2 years since I turned in the FFE (and 5 years since I picked it up).
So far 2 years on the C-Max: I’m averaging about 800-1000 miles on a “tank” of gas (in winter I burn a little more to generate heat). This usually means I’m getting gas about once a month. Which isn’t too bad all things considered.
In Ford news they did up their commitment to 40 electrified vehicles by 2022 still, however, they haven’t shown a single prototype, rendering, or anything for that matter. This means that when my C-Max lease is up in a year there won’t be anything available from Ford with a plug (assuming they stop making the Focus Electric, C-Max Energi, and Fusion Energi when the Focus plant switches over to Ranger production this year–Focus production is moving overseas).
Given that I have to start looking elsewhere for an EV to lease. The most logical one to choose would be a Chevy Bolt EV (given that it is A) available, and B) a bit less expensive than a Tesla Model 3). To that end we have a vacation coming up…perhaps I’ll try to rent one…hmmm.
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 😉