Ford just made a big electric vehicle announcement, saying it will build a hybrid Mustang and F-150 truck, along with a fully electric SUV with 300 miles of range, all by 2020. The $4.5 billion investment will make it the latest automaker to fully commit to a heavily electric and hybrid road map, joining Mercedes, Volkswagen and others. "Our investments and expanding lineup reflect our view that global offerings of electrified vehicles will exceed gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years," said President and CEO Mark Fields in a statement.
All told, the company will launch 13 electrified (hybrid or EV) vehicles, with seven coming in just the next five years. Along with a 300-mile-range SUV, a hybrid Mustang and a hybrid F-150 truck, Ford will also build a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid taxi and, interestingly, two electrified police cars. It'll invest $700 million and add 700 new jobs in its Flat Rock, Michigan, assembly plant, "to create a factory capable of producing high-tech and autonomous vehicles," the company said in the same press release.
At the same time, the automaker is cancelling plans for a $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and will instead build the next-generation Focus in an existing Mexican plant. "This will make way for two new iconic products at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, where the Focus is manufactured today -- safeguarding approximately 3,500 US jobs," the company wrote.
The US automaker already has a number of plug-in hybrid cars, but the Focus Electric is its only pure EV in the US. Unlike models from Tesla, GM and Renault, to name just a few, the 2017 Focus is limited to just 100 miles, which is actually a step up from last year's model. Fields recently complained about soft demand for EVs, despite over 400,000 orders for Tesla's Model 3. However, the company is certainly aiming at its base by launching electric versions of its iconic Mustang, F-150 and cop cars.
Along with the new cars, Ford will build an "ultra-fast charging network projected to be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today," presumably meaning Tesla's Supercharger. The company will build out 400 sites in Europe in the near term with "access to thousands of high-powered charging points" by 2020. What's more, Ford said it's piloting wireless-charging tech in the US and Europe "that makes recharging as easy as pulling into a parking spot so drivers never forget to recharge."
Despite the news, Ford's EV plans are mild compared to more-dramatic recent announcements by Volkswagen and other automakers. Its decision to cancel the Mexican plant is a surprise, because Fields specifically said he wouldn't do that as early as last month in the face of criticism by President-elect Donald Trump.Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.