The Renault-Nissan Alliance has been at the forefront in promoting electric vehicles, but Ford is about to join the EV race, and in a big way. The Blue Oval has announced that it is investing an additional $4.5 billion (RM19.5 billion) in electrified vehicle solutions by 2020. It is Ford’s largest-ever EV investment in a five-year period.

The result of that will be the addition of 13 new electrified vehicles to its product portfolio by 2020, and Ford says that more than 40% of its nameplates globally will be electrified by the decade’s end.

The first of those will be the new Focus Electric, which will start production late next year for Europe and North America. The Focus EV will come with new DC fast-charge capability delivering 80% charge in an estimated 30 minutes and a projected 160 km (100 mile) range – an estimated two hours faster than today’s Focus Electric.

It will also have a SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD instrument cluster, which offers customisable displays that can help the driver see real-time power usage; Brake Coach that helps the driver apply smooth braking to maximise the energy captured via regenerative braking; and a fun-to-drive character with agile steering and handling.

Ford EV Plans

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Separately, Ford is expanding its EV R&D programme in Europe and Asia, creating a “hub and spoke” system that allows the global team to further accelerate battery technology and take advantage of market specific opportunities.

By using hardware and software systems called HIL, or Hardware in a Loop, the team can test battery tech and control system hardware in a real-time virtual environment to simulate how batteries and control modules would behave in different – often punishing – environments in any part of the world. There’s also a $2.1 million (RM9.1 million) in a battery lab at the University of Michigan to boost R&D.

“Batteries are the life force of any electric vehicle, and we have been committed to growing our leadership in battery research and development for more than 15 years,” said Kevin Layden, director at Ford Electrification Programs.

Besides the main markets of Europe and North America, growing EV markets such as Taiwan, China and South Korea are in Ford’s plans.