Ford plans EV to compete with Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Fields confirms
‘Model E’ slated to be built in new Mexico plant
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is developing an electric vehicle that would be competitive with the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3, CEO Mark Fields said today.Fields, asked whether the automaker intended to offer a battery-electric vehicle with a 200-mile range, said Ford wants to be “among the leaders or in a leadership position” as more automakers introduce long-range battery-powered cars.“Clearly that’s something we’re developing for,” Fields said on Ford’s first-quarter earnings conference call.Fields’ comments, while lacking details, are the first time a top executive with the company has acknowledged specific plans to directly challenge Tesla Motors and the Bolt.Fields didn’t say how soon such a vehicle could go on sale. Ford is expected to call it the “Model E” and assemble it starting in 2019 at a new plant in Mexico that the company announced earlier this month.
The Model E would likely be offered as a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a pure electric vehicle, according to research firm AutoForecast Solutions. Ford has a pending trademark application on the “Model E” name.Fields announced in December that Ford would spend $4.5 billion on an effort to add 13 hybrid or electric vehicles to its lineup by 2020. He said 40 percent of Ford’s nameplates would be offered in an electrified version by that time.Ford currently sells the Focus Electric with a 76-mile range. It’s increasing that to 100 miles this fall, but even that is just half the advertised range of the Bolt, which General Motors says will arrive later this year, and the Model 3, which is expected to go on sale within two years. In addition, Nissan North America is planning to offer a redesigned Leaf that goes at least 200 miles in 2018.At this month’s SAE World Congress, several speakers said a range of at least 200 miles is needed to alleviate consumers’ range anxiety about battery-powered cars. But Kevin Layden, the director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering, said the Focus is enough to satisfy.“I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population,” Layden said. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”