Ford electrifies development of new models

December 11, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Carmaker Ford Motor Company has announced its hitherto largest 5-year investment program into electric vehicles. With the coal of introducing 13 new electrified vehicles within the next five years, the company will spend $4.5 billion (about 4.1 billion euros). Once completed, 40 % of Ford’s models will be available in an electric version.

The focus of Ford’s investments is on intensifying and accelerating the development of its battery technology, expanding its R&D program in Europe and Asia. The goal is cross-linking the development teams to achieve a synergetic and effective collaboration. The carmaker also expands its battery research facilities in Europe and China. An innovative hardware and software system (hardware in the loop, HiL) enables the researchers to simulate battery and control systems in a virtual environment and to test them at the globally scattered R&D facilities under any imaginable theoretical aspects. “Batteries are the lifeblood of any electric vehicle, and therefore we have committed to expand our R&D activities around battery technology”, commented Kevin Layden, Director of Ford Electricfication Programs.

The latest project in Ford’s electromobility strategy is the new model Focus Electric in which the current AC charging system will be complemented by a DC charging option. This would give customers a quick charging option in which the battery will be charged to 80 % of its capacity within 30 minutes. Other features of the Focus Electric will include a “SmartGauge” that displays the energy consumption in real time, helping the driver to make the best use of the energy stored, an intelligent brake assist that maximises the efficiency of the regenerative braking system, and dynamic driving behaviour with agile steering characteristics. Production for the new Ford Focus Electric is scheduled to start in Q4 2016. The vehicle will be sold in North America and Europe.

With regards to the requirement phase, Ford said it increasingly takes into account customer feedback. Besides classical market research, the company will increasingly utilise socio-scientific research to understand the preferences and needs of the customers.

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