US automaker Ford said it will invest $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle solutions by 2020, its largest-ever electrified vehicle investment in a five-year period.
The investment will add 13 new electric and hybrid vehicles to Ford’s portfolio by 2020, which means more than 40 per cent of the company’s lineup will come in electrified versions, the company said.
One electric model that will roll off the assembly lines next year is the new Focus Electric, which features a new DC fast-charge capability delivering an 80 per cent charge in an estimated 30 minutes - about two hours faster than today’s Focus Electric - and a projected 160-kilometer range.
Ford said the move is being made in response to increasing global trends for cleaner, more efficient vehicles.
“The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s executive vice-president of product development in a statement.
He added that regulatory requirements influence the technologies that Ford is introducing, not just in electrified vehicles but in lightweight designs and EcoBoost engines.
Although it is not known when the electric cars in the new plan will be available on the Chinese market, Ford CEO Mark Fields promised in October to introduce two new-energy vehicles - the C-Max Energi and the Mondeo hybrid - to the Chinese market in 2016.
Due to the government’s favorable policies, new-energy vehicles are gaining momentum in China, despite the overall auto market’s slowdown this year.
Statistics show that China sold 171,100 such cars in the first 10 months of 2015, a 290-percent surge from the same period last year.
Ford said it is expanding in China and Europe to accelerate battery technology research and development for new markets, but no more details were given.
In addition to new-energy vehicles, Ford said it would increase the number of models available in China with its EcoBoost engines.
In November, the company unveiled its flagship Taurus sedan at the Guangzhou auto show, delivering on its promise to bring 15 vehicles to China by 2015.
Ford said more than 80 per cent of its vehicles now sport its EcoBoost engines, but five years ago that figure was only 20 per cent.
China is one of Ford’s most important markets. In the first 11 months, it delivered 990,356 cars, a 0.6 per cent increase from the same period last year. In November, its sales stood at 106,283 units, up 9 per cent year-on-year.
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