Ford Motor Company plans to triple its electric vehicle capacity with the help of its first dedicated hybrid and plug-in vehicle models, and is adding jobs in Michigan as its electric vehicle strategy expands.
"Today's news means that we are going to have enough flexibility to grow our electrified vehicle production to more than 100,000 units annually by 2013," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of marketing, sales and service, during a webcast Thursday.
Ford currently sells 35,000 electric, hybrid or plug-in vehicles a year, Farley said, using the strategy of adding electric version of core models. "We're not really electrifying certain vehicles and making a science project for a few people," he said. "We're electrifying a whole platform."
Ford's C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid (called the Energi) will be released in 2012 as the first Ford body styles available only as hybrids or plug-ins in North America. While investing in more capacity for the vehicles, Ford scrubbed plans to produce a seven-passenger gasoline-powered C-Max.
The two C-Max vehicles boast seating for five, a 500-mile driving range for the plug-in, more than 41 mpg in city driving for the hybrid (higher than the Ford Fusion), and the first use of lithium-ion batteries in hybrids by Ford. The new battery will be 25-30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than nickel-metal-hydride batteries.
Farley said Ford sold more than 100,000 five-passenger C-Max vehicles in Europe in 2010, and sales for 2011 so far are double where they were last year.
The C-Max hybrid and plug-in will both be built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., along with the 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric, making it the first facility to produce gasoline, full-electric, hybrid and plug-in vehicles all on the same line.
Ford also said it's focused on turning Michigan into a "center of excellence for vehicle electrification," and is adding 220 jobs focused on greener technologies, including 50 engineering jobs working on hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full battery electric vehicles.
Other positions are being added at Ford’s Rawsonville and Van Dyke Transmission plants, which will assemble the C-Max hybrid batteries and build the two vehicles' electric drive transaxles, respectively. Currently those tasks are handled by suppliers in Mexico and Japan.
C-Max Energi - CC license by mariordo59/Flickr