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Thread: Ford going hybrid/plug-in hybrid

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    Default Ford going hybrid/plug-in hybrid

    Detroit News...

    Ford Motor Co. will invest up to $500 million and create more than a thousand new jobs in Michigan to support its electric vehicle programs if state lawmakers expand an existing incentive program and approve $85 million in tax credits, the company said Tuesday.

    If those conditions are met, the Dearborn automaker would engineer and assemble battery packs for a new generation of hybrid vehicles in Michigan. Ford also would commit to manufacturing a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid here that would be based on the same platform as the new Ford Focus it plans to unveil in Detroit in January.

    These moves would consolidate much of Ford's electric vehicle research, development, engineering and manufacturing in the state. Nancy Gioia, director of Ford's global electrification programs, said Michigan's commitment to battery technology and manufacturing makes it a great fit for Ford's plan, which she said would benefit the state.
    The battery packs Ford uses in its hybrid cars and trucks are designed and produced by Delphi Corp. in Mexico. But Gioia said engineering and assembling these packs is a "critical core competency" that Ford needs to move in-house.

    "It's a critical core competency to delivering the vehicle function, its DNA, its durability, its reliability and for getting every joule of energy out of the vehicle," she said, adding that automakers are struggling to keep up with the rapid advances in lithium-ion cell technology.

    "By controlling the battery system development, we're making ourselves able to respond very quickly."

    Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of global product development, said this is key to Ford's competitiveness in the emerging electric vehicle market. For example, he said Ford has been able to modify the battery control system on its new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid to deliver best-in-class fuel economy and a higher electric-only speed.

    "That ability comes not so much from cell technology itself, but the way that we're controlling the battery system," Kuzak said.

    Ford, which was the first U.S. carmaker to bring a hybrid to market, offers four hybrids in the United States.

    In January, it announced plans to introduce a battery powered version of its Transit Connect commercial van to fleet customers next year, to be followed by a battery powered version of the new Focus compact in 2011.

    The company also promised to introduce a next-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid in 2012.

    On Tuesday, Ford said both of those vehicles will be built off the same platform as the new Focus, which will be produced at the company's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid would likely be produced on the same assembly line.

    Ford said it has not decided where in Michigan the batteries would be assembled. Gioia said the packs could be assembled at an existing facility or at a new factory. Gioia said Delphi may continue to supply some of the components used to produce its battery packs.

    Ford's announcement came a day after General Motors Co. said it would invest $336 million to upgrade its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to produce the extended range electric Chevrolet Volt and the next-generation Malibu.

    GM announced earlier this year that it would assemble its own battery packs in Brownstown Township.

    University of Michigan economist George Fulton said these investments are "positive signs" that the state's efforts to become a hub for green vehicle development and manufacturing are "gaining traction."

    "It's like a snowball rolling down the mountain," he said. "It's too early to say if it will really take hold, but this is encouraging."
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 9th December 2009 at 07:08.
    Dr. Mordrid
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