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Ford exec: Hybrids are better suited for self-driving cars than EVs

They can stay on the road longer and refuel faster than electric cars can recharge.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
December 11, 2017
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JEFF KOWALSKY via Getty Images

Automakers like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Lyft, have been bundling their autonomous car experiments into electric vehicles. But Ford will keep one foot in fossil fuels, at least for now. An executive from the company told Automotive News that the self-driving car Ford intends to release in 2021 will be a completely new hybrid.

While Ford is making a conservative choice to stick with gas-powered autonomous cars, it's hoping to eke out an edge with longer ranges than competitors' electric vehicles. After all, it's a lot quicker to fill up a gas tank than fully recharge an EV. More to the point, that time off the road is time spent not making money. Ford plans to keep its autonomous hybrids driving for about 20 hours per day, Ford's president of global markets Jim Farley told Automotive News:

"Anytime you're not carrying goods and people, you're losing money," Farley said. "The most important thing is uptime and profitability. What we see is the [hybrid] is a much better cost-of-ownership model."

Unlike other automakers, Ford isn't planning to slide its autonomous cars into the ride sharing business. Instead, it's looking for other commercial opportunities that require cars on the road around the clock. The company started testing its tech earlier this year when it deployed self-driving Ford Fusions to Domino's locations in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area to gauge customer enthusiasm for AI-controlled pizza delivery.

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