FORD ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Ford, the second-biggest seller of plug-in electric vehicles in the USA up to now has not invested in its EV platform from scratch, instead of buying in technology. Up to 2015 this strategy served the company well as its saved funds and learned from others mistakes, this strategy is however not a long term solution as it falls further behind on the innovation curve. Forced to rethink its position on mobility and electric vehicles it committed to investing $4.5 billion in the technology by 2020. The funds will go towards developing 13 new electric vehicles, including a new generation of the Focus model with a range of 100miles plus.
On the mobility front, the company is deploying some autonomous vehicles in the USA for testing purposes. The Company’s autonomous pilot car’s sport’s next-generation sensors from Velodyne. The company is also implementing other technology upgrades such as pairing its SYNC in-car platform with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa services and Wink home automation system. The Company is also expanding its GoDrive car sharing program.
FORD EV MODELS
FORD EV SALES
FORD ELECTRIC CARS IN THE NEWS
2017 Week 25 - Self-Driving Ford Fusion showcased
2017 Week 19 - Ford CEO under fire for strategy
CNBC ran an article on the prediction by the US thinktank RethinkX that 95% of miles traveled will be in electric powered autonomous cars by 2030. The controversial prediction is way above that of Boston Consulting which predicted that only 25% of such trips would be in self-driving or shared vehicles. Looking at the website of Tony Seba, a co-author of the RethinkX study, “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries.” the report also predicts that only 20% of Americans will own cars by 2030.
The predicted shift in mobility leads into other news this week where Ford’s CEO was challenged on his strategy for the company, resulting in its performance lagging its competitors. Mark Fields, CEO since 2014, embarked on what is the auto sector icon’s biggest strategy shift in history by investing heavily in self-driving technology. The challenge for the Ford CEO’s strategy is that he has one foot in the future and one in the present, resulting in an earnings decline of 42%.
2017 Week 14 - Navigant Ranks Ford tops in self-driving cars
Navigant Research placed Ford and GM at the top of its autonomous driving leaderboard, surprisingly far above Waymo (7th), the pioneer of autonomous driving. Waymo was only listed as a contender, and Tesla who has already clocked over 300 million miles in Autopilot (Level 2 Autonomy) did not make the Top 10 list. Waymo, not aiming to develop a car, but rather focusing on autonomous technology has partnered with Chrysler and Ford on testing autonomous technology. Making Navigant’s findings even more surprising to us is that Waymo performed exceptionally well compared to other automakers on the list when comparing across all permit holders allowed to test autonomous tech on Californias public roads. According to CA DMV regulations, each permit holder must annually file a disengagement report, reflecting the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where the system fails. Waymo posted a record 0.2 disengagements per 1,000 miles in its 2016. For a breakdown of each permit holders testing in California read our recent blog providing detailed analysis.
Navigant’s criteria are based on the following ten factors; vision, go-to-market strategy, partners, production strategy, technology, sales, marketing, and distribution, product capability, product quality and reliability, product portfolio and staying power. The Top Ten on Navigant’s list are Ford, GM, Renault–Nissan Alliance, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, BMW, Waymo, Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity, Delphi and Hyundai Motor Group.
Despite Tesla aiming to have a market ready Level 5 autonomous product by the end of the year, it is only listed as a contender. Tesla is criticized by some, for being too aggressive, using its customers as guinea pigs for its AutoPilot software. Not surprising though is that Uber features on the bottom end of the list, the controversial ride-hailing company has been in the news lately for losing its right to test in San Francisco, being sued by Waymo and a crash in Tempe, Arizona, temporarily halting its pilot program.
2017 Week 14 - Tesla unseat Ford and GM in US Top 3 automaker list
In the same week where Ford was dethroned by GM as the USAs number two automaker, due to Tesla taking the top spot, the company released a new electric vehicle strategy for its Chinese operations. Ford, suffering from a shareholder revolt due to its lack of a convincing electric vehicle strategy and declining sales on Thursday announced that it targets 70% contribution from EV’s of its Chinese auto sales by 2025. The first phase of the strategy will be to produce a PHEV early 2018 together with its Chinese partner, Changan, also known as Chana. The company aims to have a small electric SUV within the next five years, capable of a battery electric range of 280 miles / 450km. The company still lacks a proper global electric vehicle strategy, and the current attempt is too little and too late.
2017 Week 9 - USA February EV sales, Ford in third place
February Electric Vehicle sales data released for the USA this week reveals some interesting talking points. Overall, February sales gained a further 13.4% in January 2017 and over 55% on year on year basis. Contributors to the increase came from a nearly doubling in sales of the Tesla Model S and continued demand for the new Toyota Prius Plus. Unfortunately, the Prius in our books hardly counts as an electric vehicle due to its underwhelming continued reliance on its combustion engine. Disappointingly, sales for the Chevrolet Bolt declined over 18% from January, bringing total sales for the four months to 3,272 units, far short if one takes that at a claimed 30,000 units per annum the Bolt should have sold 10,000 units during the four months. In the car maker standings, GM retained its lead with 2,776 units over Tesla’s 2,550 units with Ford taking third place with 1,704 units.
2017 Week 1 - Ford's 5 year plan for EV's announced
Ford’s electric vehicle program announced this week, although sounding impressive, falls short of delivering a punch for the sector. The company unveiled seven electrified models to reach the market in the next five years with a further six to follow. The automaker will also invest $700 million in upgrading their Michigan plant for electric and autonomous vehicle production, adding 700 direct new jobs. The press release clearly aims to impress President Donald Trump as the company also scuttled plans for a $1.6Bln plant in Mexico. The reason why we see Ford’s announcement as underwhelming is that the company is clearly just towing the line according to regulations since all the model’s bar one would be plug-in hybrid’s, a trend which has surely run its course. Die hard Ford enthusiast would be happy with PHEV versions of the Mustang, F-150, a hybrid autonomous model, two police vehicles and Transit Custom taxi/delivery van. The only Battery Electric Vehicle is a Small Utility with a range of 300 miles.
2016 Week 52 - Ford Debuts its Second Generation Autonomous Vehicle
Ford debuted its next-generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous development vehicle this week. The second generation of the vehicle sports more production ready controls and LiDar sensors on top of an improved computer hardware platform. Improved field of vision on the sensors allowed Ford to have only two sensors as opposed to four in the first generation. The second generation follows the first, introduced three years ago. The company aims to have an SAE Level 4-capable vehicle commercially available by 2021 for ride-hailing and sharing purposes. Ford will also expand its test fleet, currently operational only in California to its home state, Michigan.
2016 Week 51 - Uber remains with Ford self-driving pilot after being booted from San Francisco
This week Uber was forced to cancel its self-driving pilot in San Francisco, its hometown. Although regulators are in possession of footage showing an Uber pilot vehicle running a red light, barely missing a pedestrian, a claim the company contest that it was driver error and not the software, the ultimate decision was based on the company not following proper permitting procedures. Although the Californian DMV offered Uber assistance and a clear road to permitting the company and State could not agree on workable rules around Uber’s demand for its technology to be classified as SAE Level 3 automation. It is not the end of Uber’s efforts though as it is piloting retrofitted Volvo XC90 SUV’s and Ford Focus vehicles in Pittsburgh.
2016 Week 38 - Strategy, Paris Auto Show
1. The financial blog, the Motley Fool reported earlier this month on a recent investor day by Ford on its Electric Vehicle strategy. The strategy essentially boils down to the company wanting to become a leader in the sector by bringing electric drivetrains for its most profitable and popular models, which would then allow its expertise to benefit the rest of its product range. The strategy will include plug-in versions for its SUV’s, Pick-ups and Crossovers. The company identified 2030 as the tipping point for electric vehicles leading over combustion vehicles.
2. The highly anticipated Paris Auto Show starts this week, and the event is expected to deliver some huge announcements for the electric vehicle market. We have reported earlier on Mercedes’s expected launch of an all-electric sub-brand, which includes the introduction of a plug-in pick-up, and BMW‘s executive not attending the event to trash out is electric vehicle strategy. Other brands to watch include VW‘s hyped-up mass market EV with a range of over 300miles expected in 2020, Porche’s new Panamera PHEV and Citroen‘s new Experience concept car. Various company’s such as Ford and Rolls Royce will not attend the smaller than usual event.
2016 Week 33 - Autonomous vehicle
1. Ford this week announced its plans to be a leader in the autonomous vehicle segment. The company aims to produce high volumes of autonomous vehicles for the car-sharing purposes by 2021. To enable the company to reach its goal it has partnered with four startups on autonomous vehicle development, and increased its Silicon Valley team two-fold and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
2016 Week 30 - India
1.Ford USA vetoed Ford India’s decision to participate in a consortium to facilitate the electric vehicle sector in the Indian market. The remaining consortium members, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra, and Tata Motors now has to delay the launch of the project to create a supplier base for the sector. The reason cited by Ford USA is that it sees the project as not being financially viable.
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How successful is the Chinese New Energy Vehicles Program? The State Auditor found that 45% of Chinese EV makers sold less than 500 models per year.
Traum Auto, another new vehicle brand chasing the Chinese dream. The latest brand is from the Zotye stable officially launched on the 27th of June 2017.
In this week’s blog series on introducing Chinese electric car brands, we look at Thunder Power Holdings ( #ThunderPower ).