Ford vies to strike EV light­ning

Mus­tang Mach E starts in­dus­try blitz of elec­tric ve­hi­cles

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - BUSINESS - By Tom Krisher

DEAR­BORN, Mich. — Ford is un­veil­ing its first all-elec­tric SUV, mark­ing the start of an avalanche of bat­tery-pow­ered ve­hi­cles com­ing from main­stream and lux­ury au­tomak­ers dur­ing the next two years that in­dus­try an­a­lysts say will boost elec­tric ve­hi­cle sales.

The Mus­tang Mach E, which will go 230 miles to more 300 miles per charge de­pend­ing on how it’s equipped, was un­veiled Sun­day night ahead of the Los An­ge­les Auto Show press days.

There are 18 EVs now for sale in the U.S., and IHS Markit ex­pects that to grow to 80 in 2022, in­clud­ing pickup trucks and SUVs that are in the heart of the Amer­i­can mar­ket. Yet last year, pure elec­tric ve­hi­cles made up only 1.5% of new ve­hi­cle sales world­wide, and the con­sult­ing firm LMC Au­to­mo­tive pre­dicts that will rise to 2.2% this year. In the U.S., elec­tric ve­hi­cles were only 1.2% of sales in 2018, and it’s ex­pected to be about the same this year.

But au­tomak­ers see op­por­tu­nity for growth, and with elec­tric ve­hi­cles get­ting 250 miles or more on a sin­gle charge, wor­ries about run­ning out of juice on a daily com­mute are gone. Be­cause of the added mod­els and in­creased range, LMC pre­dicts that they will make up 17% of global sales and 7% of U.S. sales in 2030.

First-gen­er­a­tion elec­tric ve­hi­cles, which mainly were retro­fit­ted ver­sions of ex­ist­ing mod­els de­signed to meet gov­ern­ment fuel econ­omy stan­dards, didn’t sell well largely be­cause they couldn’t travel more than 100 miles be­tween charges.

But now, many can go be­yond the dis­tance peo­ple drive in one day with plenty of cush­ion.

“See­ing 250 miles as a real thing has been kind of a game changer in the elec­tric car mar­ket,” said Jake Fisher, di­rec­tor of auto test­ing for Con­sumer Re­ports. “There haven’t been a lot of choices for a ve­hi­cle that re­ally could take the place of a main­stream ve­hi­cle. It’s a whole dif­fer­ent an­i­mal now.”

Stephanie Brin­ley, prin­ci­pal auto an­a­lyst for IHS

Markit, said elec­tric ve­hi­cle choices may ex­pand be­fore con­sumer de­mand does, but even­tu­ally peo­ple will buy them.

“The in­creased num­ber of mod­els with an elec­tric driv­e­train will con­trib­ute to an in­crease in sales in the U.S.,” she said. “How­ever, there is likely to be a pe­riod where the num­ber of op­tions will in­crease faster than de­mand and sales for each will be rel­a­tively low,” she said.

While many electrics com­ing in the next few years are from lux­ury brands, main­stream brands like Ford, Chevro­let and Toy­ota also have them on the pro­duc­tion sched­ule. Brands that have an­nounced new mod­els that will go on sale in the next few years in­clude Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Cadil­lac, By­ton, Ri­vian, Bollinger, Kia, Fara­day Fu­ture, Volk­swa­gen, Mazda, Tesla, As­ton Martin, Polestar and Volvo, ac­cord­ing to the Ed­munds.com auto pric­ing site.

Ford and Gen­eral Mo­tors have an­nounced plans for all-elec­tric pick­ups that will com­pete against gas and diesel trucks that are the top sell­ers in the U.S.

For Ford, ex­ec­u­tives re­al­ized in 2017 that they had to of­fer some­thing more ex­cit­ing for the first of a new gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles. The com­pany last year promised six bat­tery elec­tric ve­hi­cles by 2022. It also has part­ner­ships with VW and startup Ri­vian to build more.

To sell them, Ford de­cided to go to the com­pany’s strengths: pickup trucks, com­mer­cial vans and the Mus­tang.

“There are go­ing to be plenty of BEV (bat­tery elec­tric) SUVs on the mar­ket. Some will have big bat­ter­ies and dou­ble mo­tors and be pretty fast. Some will look re­ally good,” said Ja­son Cas­tri­ota, the com­pany’s brand di­rec­tor for elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

“No one can com­bine all those el­e­ments and cre­ate some­thing that will cut right through the clut­ter,” he said. “Mus­tang is power.”

The five-pas­sen­ger Mach E sort of re­sem­bles a Mus­tang, and Ford says it comes close to match­ing the car’s per­for­mance. En­gi­neers say the base model will have a range of about 230 miles per charge, with a long-range op­tion of more than 300 miles. The base ver­sion is ex­pected to go from zero to 60 mph in a lit­tle over 6 sec­onds, Ford said, while the per­for­mance GT ver­sion will do it in about 3.5 sec­onds.

The base ver­sion is rear­wheel-drive, with all­wheel-drive op­tions. It has the Mus­tang pony badge on the front and rear, a long hood and a fast­back look at the rear. Yet de­sign­ers pre­served rear-seat head­room with a blacked-out glass roof. The Mus­tang team set up the Mach E’s chas­sis tuning, which de­ter­mines its han­dling. De­sign­ers also copied the Mus­tang’s triple tail­lights.

U.S. or­ders are be­ing taken now, and the SUV will reach show­rooms next fall. The base model will start just un­der $44,000, with the GT start­ing around $65,000. Ford buy­ers are still el­i­gi­ble for a $7,500 fed­eral tax credit, which is be­ing phased out at Tesla and Gen­eral Mo­tors.

Ford has a deal with Elec­trify Amer­ica and oth­ers for a national net­work that in­cludes over 12,000 charg­ing sta­tions and 35,000 plugs.

The com­pany also will have 2,100 of its U.S. dealership­s cer­ti­fied to ser­vice elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO/AP

Ford is hop­ing to score big with the Mus­tang Mach E, an elec­tric SUV for daily drivers that sort of looks like a Mus­tang per­for­mance car.

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