Ford Motor Co. will be launching five battery-powered models in 2012 and is prepared to spend $135 million to design electric-drive parts and double battery testing capacity. In a statement, Ford revealed that the automaker is moving more battery research in-house. In the past year, 60 engineers have been hired, bringing the number of electric-vehicle engineering staff to over 1,000. Ford said that these moves will help in limiting the cost of hybrid systems by 30% and hastening development by 25%. Joe Bakaj, Ford's vice president of powertrain engineering, said this new investment is aimed at giving consumers "faster access” to the newest and most remarkable fuel-saving technologies and vehicles from Ford.
The company expects its hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars to make up for up to 25% of its new vehicle sales by 2020, from less than 3% in 2011. Ford is competing in the budding market for electrified vehicles with Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. and startups like Tesla Motors Inc. and closely held Fisker Automotive Inc.
Ford added that it is planning to hire "dozens" more of engineers focused on electric-vehicle development. In addition, it is renaming its 285,000-square-foot advanced engineering center adjacent to its headquarters the "Ford Advanced Electrification Center." Electrified vehicles made up for 3.4% of the U.S. market in the first half of the year, a 2.2% increase compared to the previous year, researcher LMC Automotive said. LMC said that hybrids declined by 2.2% of the U.S. market last year, a 2.4% drop from 2010 and 2.8% lower than in 2009. Mike Omotoso, a researcher for LMC, said that Ford possessed only 4% of the U.S. hybrid and electric-vehicle market in the first half of the year, compared with Toyota’s 72%.