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20 September 2019

Ford survey says what it wants to hear – US wants only hybrids

What happens when you fight tooth and claw to prevent people in your home market from buying EVs? That’s right, you get an ignorant user base.

Ford has now managed to prove this by carrying out a survey which hilariously says that many Americans think that EVs still run on gasoline; are not strong enough to tow anything; and fail in either hot or cold conditions.

The logic that perhaps Ford would like us to take from this is that the US consumer is not yet ready for EVs. What we take from it is that most US consumers assumed their favorite car company would have mentioned EVs by now if they were any good, and they are still waiting – for adverts, showrooms offers, documentary films, case studies, which mention ford and EV in the same sentence.

It is no good having the Tesla 3 , the BMW i3, and the Nissan LEAF if you have never bought a car from any of those companies, and you are brand loyal. It is as if Ford has deliberately sewn confusion for ten years and then cried, “I told  you they weren’t ready.”

Also the key to the Ford EV technology comes from outside the company, from start-up Rivian and it has signed up for the Volkwagen MEB, a modular EV platform which share similar electronic controls and cut down the amount of processing required for drive assisted technology.

So that’s really two parts of the new Fords that are “not invented here” enough to make Ford personnel shrug and not care about EV sales.

But at last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show Ford came out and declared that by 2022 EV sales will outstrip conventional petrol and diesel vehicles and if you work for Ford, that declaration must have sent a shiver up your spine, especially if you work at an engine plant or a controls division. Ford looks set, like so may other car makers, to become little more than a brand name for other people’s technology, made largely in other people’s factories, in other countries.

Ford has talked about having 17 models across hybrid, plug-in and electric by 2024 and every new vehicle out of Ford will have an electrified option –  from mild-hybrid, to full-hybrid, to plug-in hybrid including its brand new Kuga plug in hybrid, its first plug in car; and a seven-seat Explorer SUV, and the Tourneo Custom eight-seater MPV, with the new promised Mustang EV SUV arriving in 2020. Most of these new models are just for the European markets, which Ford feels are more likely to embrace EVs than its home US. They were all greeted by European press as being “boring,” and lacking imagination.

Late last year Ford made it clear that it was dropping sedans, embracing oversized SUVs and re-engaging with the Mustang brand – all moves which make it look like Ford does not understand EVs – what the world needs right now are small, compact EVs.

It looks to us and many other observers that Ford rushing into mostly hybrids, means that it will have to rush just as fast into fully electric vehicles at a later date and it clearly is reading its own survey and assuming that just because the US public is not fully EV aware, that no-one else is around the world. Ford’s conversion to the true new world of EVs is going to be exceptionally painful if it has to learn every lesson twice.

Separately this week Ford has said that it will work with Centrica in the UK to offer charging systems across the UK and Ireland. It has its own wall box system which it claims delivers 50% more charge power than a typical domestic socket. Again, not a move designed to inspire confidence, as others systems provide shorter recharge cycles.