Ford Prepares Global Launch of Electric Cars, Leads on Intelligent Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. is preparing to launch a line of electric vehicles (EVs) globally and is looking further down the road towards making "intelligent" vehicles that could lead to improvements in sustainable transportation.

Chairman Bill Ford wrote in Fortune magazine this week that the company will start rolling out its EVs this year, beginning with an electric Ford Focus. It will be followed by a plug-in hybrid and an electric version of its new, sporty five-seater C-MAX.

He says that 25% of Ford’s global fleet will be electric by 2020.

"Some of the most fundamental and enduring elements of the automobile are being radically transformed," says.

While he is referring primarily to replacing internal combustion engines with batteries and electric drive trains, Ford is also exploring other technological leaps that could improve the safety and efficiency of driving.

Intelligent Vehicles on the Way

The company is showcasing its first intelligent vehicle this month in several California markets.

The intelligent vehicle, using Wi-Fi and GPS to communicate wirelessly with other vehicles, can reduce the time drivers sit in traffic jams and can help drivers avoid car accidents. Real time traffic information would be used to route drivers to less congested roads.

Traffic congestion continues to worsen in American cities, annually wasting nearly 3.9 billion gallons of fuel and their associated emissions, and costing the average Los Angeles commuter an additional $1,464 a year, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) 2010 Urban Mobility Report.

Unlike radar-based safety features, which identify hazards within a direct line of sight, Ford’s Wi-Fi-based radio system allows full-range, 360-degree detection of potentially dangerous situations, such as when a driver’s vision is obstructed.

For example, drivers could be alerted if their vehicle is on path to collide with another vehicle at an intersection, when a vehicle ahead stops or slows suddenly or when a traffic pattern changes on a busy highway. The systems also could warn drivers if there is a risk of collision when changing lanes, approaching a stationary or parked vehicle, or if another driver loses control.

"We are not far from the day when vehicles will operate like mobile devices with four wheels, constantly exchanging information and communicating with our environment to do things like shorten commute times, improve fuel economy and generally help us more easily navigate life on the road," says Paul Mascarenas, vice president, Ford Research and Innovation and chief technical officer. 

Ford is partnering with other automakers and the federal government, as well as local and county road commissions, to create a common language that ensures all vehicles can talk to each other based on a common communication standard.

The DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will head the research, coordinating with a coalition of automakers organized by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a joint research group headed by Ford and General Motors. The partnership is working to develop inter-operability standards in advance of completing the research phase in 2013.

This public-private partnership will host the world’s first government-sponsored driving clinics beginning in summer 2011, for which the company will contribute two prototype Ford Taurus sedans.

"Ford has laid the groundwork to give vehicles a voice with SYNC and Wi-Fi technology," said Jim Vondale, director, Ford Automotive Safety Office. "Now we’re working with other automakers and government leaders worldwide to develop common standards globally to bring intelligent vehicles to market quicker and more affordably."

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Comments on “Ford Prepares Global Launch of Electric Cars, Leads on Intelligent Vehicles”

  1. Jack Slade

    It seems that nothing is acceptable until a big company adopts it, then it becomes a great idea. It is too bad Ford doesn’t take a look at PRT. Most people I explain it to like the idea. If their thinking had gone in this direction, instead of the people-mover (Train), in 1980, then we would have full-networked Cities by now.

  2. Jonathan.Romero@Y

    Don’t forget in 1996 in response to California legislation at the time Ford came up with the Ecostar EV that got 225 miles per charge, GM had the EV-1 that got 125 miles per charge and the Solectria Sunrise got 350 miles per charge. Now Gm can only do 40 miles with the Volt? Sounds like what Ford wants needs is a
    vehicle with a 10 minute charging time and a 240 minimum mile range. What all EV auto manufacturers need are thin-film PV coated bodies combined with ultracapacitors for extending power charge and generators placed in the wheels that don’t have motors in them as part of the recharging system. These companies are so stupid. Get off your ass and make a cheap EV like I set forth, it will sell like hotcakes. Make your money through quantity sold, there is a huge international market, if you jst get going. We are going to be stuck buying Oriental EV cars if these stupid domestic companies don’t get going and just quit trying to stifle competition and instead just make a better product. I wish the President had ordered Ford to do this.

  3. jim stack

    The FORD FOCUS EV will be out in late 2011. The new advanced lithium batteries can take us 100+ miles which is what 80% of the public drives. It cost more to do 200 or 300 miles but the US Made Tesla S will have 300 miles range in 2012 but at about a cost of $60K. My LEAF can go up to 140 miles on a charge. The TENN factory is being ramped up now to produce 150,000 a year in 2012. The USA Leads in EV’s so far and should remain that way.


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