Ford has announced plans to increase its spending on electric vehicle (EV) development by $4.5 billion over the next five years, and it plans to roll out 13 new EVs over that time.
By 2020, 40% of Ford's vehicles will include EV models, the company said. The move represents Ford's largest-ever EV investment in a five-year period, it said.
Ford also announced a new Focus Electric, which features a new direct current (DC) fast-charge capability that can charge a vehicle to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes, offering an estimated 100-mile range. That's about two hours faster than today's Focus Electric. The new Focus Electric will go into production late next year.
By comparison, Tesla's Supercharger technology can achieve an 80% vehicle charge in 40 minutes, but with just a 30-minute charge the vehicle can travel about 170 miles.
Last year, Tesla open-sourced its Supercharger technology, hoping to spur the market by offering it to any car company that wanted to duplicate it.
Ford also plans to introduce a new instrument cluster for its EVs. The new "SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD Instrument Cluster" will offer multiple customizable displays that can help the driver see real-time EV power usage to help maximize vehicle efficiency.
Brake Coach, another smart feature Ford will introduce in its new EV lineup, will "coach" a driver on how to use smooth braking to maximize the energy captured through the regenerative braking system.
Regenerative braking systems recapture kinetic energy created when pressure is applied to a vehicle's disk brakes and convert it into electricity used to charge the vehicle's lithium-ion battery. The more energy a driver captures through braking, the more energy is returned to the vehicle's battery.
"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," Raj Nair, executive vice president of Ford's product development division. "By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward."
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