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January 08, 2011

Ford plans to have 10-15 percent electric cars by 2015

Ford expects to have five different electric cars on the market by 2012. In the longer term, he said, Ford plans for its fleet to be 10-15 percent electric -- including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles -- by 2015, compared to one percent today. He added that Ford's EcoBoost technology in conventional gasoline-driven cars is designed to save up to 30 percent in mileage and cut carbon emissions as much as 15 percent.


Mulally and crew detailed more and more features of their electric Focus, it became clear that -- at least in early iterations of "electrified" motoring -- the cars will be fairly high-maintenance, if only out of the necessity to keep track of power drain on batteries whose range is still 50-100 miles.

Among the methods to carry out this surveillance is something called MyFordTouch, a driver-car interface that appears on the Focus' elaborate dashboard. Among the items arrayed before the driver, described by Ford's Director of Electrification, Sherif Markby, are Ford's Sync entertainment and telecommunications system, a constantly updated Vehicle Health readout, in-car WiFi, a push-button starter and MyFordTouch. The latter device's biggest job is to keep up to the moment on the power level and driving range of the car's 23 kilowatt-hour lithium battery.

Markby added that the battery's job of saving power gets help from other features of the Focus, which include aerodynamics, lightweight wheels and low-rolling resistance tires, LED tail lamps, smart vehicle controls and regenerative braking that reclaims as much as 94 percent of energy normally lost during braking.

Markby said that Ford's big difference is that, using a specially-designed 6.6 kilowatt charger in a 240-volt outlet, the Focus recharges in just about three hours, twice the speed of current competitors.

Of course, the question was, when an electric Focus owner isn't using the home charger that comes with the electric car (and is, Ford claims, really easy to install), where does he go to get juice? The bad news, according to Mike Tinskey, Ford's Manager of Global Electrification, there aren't many places to go. Right now, in the United States, there are only 1,800 publicly available charging stations, most of these in California.

The good news. said Tinskey, lies in Ford's -- and other carmakers' -- commitment to building an infrastructure for electric vehicles. Within the next 18 months, he said, some 12,000 charging stations will be popping up in cities throughout the U.S., all of them pin-pointed on the mapping system being built into Ford's electric cars as well as on parallel software on the MyFordMobile smartphone application.

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