Ford to Compete With Tesla, Chevy, for Long-Range EV Customers

ford_Focus_electric

Chevrolet will very likely be the first to get a 200-mile $30,000 electric car to market. The company’s Bolt will go into production this fall, followed a year (or so) later by the Tesla Model 3.

Ford has, thus far, shown no interest in a long-range EV, even saying earlier this month that a 100-mile range is plenty. Ford has increased the range of the 2017 Focus Electric from 76 miles to 100, and has said that’s as far as the company plans to go due to the increased costs of larger battery packs. Ford’s electrification guru, Kevin Layden, said,

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. It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.

Ford CEO Mark Fields seems to have other plans.

In response to a question about building a 200-mile EV during the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Fields said, “We want to make sure that we’re either among the leaders or in a leadership position. When you look at some of the competitors and what they’ve announced, clearly that’s something we’re developing for.”

To make things even more interesting, Ford is said to have the name “Model E” reserved for such a vehicle. That name obviously fits well with Ford’s heritage, but also flies in the face of Tesla’s nomenclature. Car buyers might get confused with the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model E whizzing through city streets, but maybe that’s part of Ford’s plan. Aligning itself with Tesla in the eyes of the consumer would not be a bad thing.

Ford plans to invest $4.5 billion in electrification as part of a strategy to keep the company in a leadership position over the next decade. Part of that plan is to unveil an electrified F-150 hybrid truck by 2020, but it sure seems like an affordable long-range all-electric car would appeal to a much wider audience.

The Model E probably won’t go into production for another two or so years, but that’s still long before Tesla will have a chance to fill all of its 400,000 Model 3 pre-orders. Clearly, part of Ford’s plan is to convert some of those Model 3 pre-orders into Model E customers. Sneaky? You bet. But all’s fair in the world of auto marketing.

Would you buy an electric Ford instead of a Tesla?

-tgriffith

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