Ford Motors says it is not planning on joining the race to put a 200-mile electric car on the road, leaving the field for longer distance electric cars to its competitors, GM, Nissan and Tesla.
Speaking with Automotive News at the 2016 SAE World Congress in Detroit, Michigan, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, Kevin Layden, said that the company feels that the projected 100-mile range of the upcoming 2017 Focus Electric will be sufficient to meet the needs of most drivers and their daily commutes.
“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,” says Layden. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”
Both GM and Nissan are banking on success with their upcoming electric cars which are coming advertised with a 200-mile distance between charges, while Tesla asserts its new Model 3, purportedly having racked up 325,000 in pre-orders, will go 215 miles between charges. Ford’s bet is that consumers will be content with the shorter range in the Focus Electric, preferring the trade-off of having a smaller, lighter and cheaper battery pack.
Ford Motors nonetheless insists that electric cars are a big part of the company’s future, with $4.5 billion of new investment in electric vehicles over the next five years and plans for electrics to make up 40 per cent of its projected lineup in the near future.
The province of British Columbia recently announced $1 million in funding for new electric vehicle infrastructure, a move that Ford Motor Company of Canada president and CEO Dianne Craig praised, saying, “About one per cent of the industry sales in Canada, and it’s the same for British Columbia, are electric vehicles, and when you add in the electric plug-ins, it’s about two per cent. We have more work to do and the added infrastructure investment is going to be a big help.”
A recent study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concludes that governments offering clean tech subsidies for products such as solar panels and electric vehicles too often undermine their own efforts by offering subsidies that are too low to create the desired effect on companies and consumers. The study showed that governments generally base their subsidy calculations on targeted sales, but research shows that governments miss the fact that the market for any new product is uncertain, making subsidy-sales correlations impossible to gauge.
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“The government will miss their target by a lot when ignoring demand uncertainty,” says Georgia Perakis, William F. Pounds Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a co-author of the paper.
In reality, higher subsidies are usually required to kick-start a new industry in a particular market, which will result in a more gradual increase in sales over time. Researchers assert that for clean technologies, the higher subsidies should overall be cost-effective for governments, once lower environmental and health care costs are factored in.