Ford Says No to 200+ Mile Electric Car, Maintains 100 Miles Will “Satisfy A Big Chunk Of The Population”

Back in 2010 when Nissan launched the LEAF hatchback, it promised the family-friendly plug-in would manage 100 miles per charge. Despite the EPA later giving it an official rating of just 73 miles per charge, those who purchased the Nissan LEAF were –generally speaking — able to use their LEAF for the majority of daily trips without needing to recharge during the day.

At the time, the de facto argument from Nissan and other automakers — as well as many electric car advocates — was that an electric car with a range of between 70 and 100 miles was capable of traveling 95 percent of all trips carried out by most families. Backed up by scientific study, the data seemed to agree: with 95 percent of all U.S. trips by car under 30 miles in length, 98 percent of all trips being under 50 miles in length and 99 percent being under 70 miles in length, the case for a longer-range electric car seemed to be a weak. If (effectively) no one would use that range, it was pointless to produce cars that could do it.

Ford says it isn't interested in making a 200-mile electric car.

Ford says it isn’t interested in making a 200-mile electric car.

That data has not changed significantly in the past few years. People haven’t suddenly changed the length of trips they make, whether the car is electric or not. But thanks to incremental improvements in both battery cell energy density and a dramatic drop in price per kilowatt-hour for lithium-ion battery packs, cars like the 30-kilowatt-hour 2016 Nissan LEAF are pushing the range of mass-market affordable electric cars beyond the 100-mile mark for the first time.

Later this year, when Chevrolet launches its 2017 Bolt EV with a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and 200+ miles of range, it will shift the acceptable range of an entry-level electric car from 100 miles per charge to 200 miles per charge. Following the Chevy Bolt next year, or early in 2018, Nissan is expected to launch a longer-range next-generation LEAF with a range of between 150 and 200 miles per charge. And, assuming it hits its optimistic production target of late 2017, Tesla’s mass-market, $35,000 Model 3 electric car — complete with 215 miles or more of real-world range — will make any similarly-priced electric car that doesn’t offer at least 200 miles of range per charge something of a Spruce Goose.

There is some logic to focusing on bringing down price -- but will Ford manage to do that?

There is some logic to focusing on bringing down price — but will Ford manage to do that?

Consequently, the majority of automakers with electric cars are looking to expand the range of their cars in the next two years. BMW and Volkswagen have both said they are working on improved battery packs for their respective i3 and e-Golf electric cars, first to just over 100 miles per charge and then to well over 100 miles in the next two years or so as next-generation versions of both cars hit the market.

Ford too, is looking to increase the range of its Focus Electric hatchback for the 2016 model year, from the current 84 miles of EPA-approved range to just over 100 miles per charge. But unlike its rivals, Ford says it has no interest right now in increasing the range of the Focus Electric to 200 miles per charge in order to compete against the Chevy Bolt, next-generation Nissan LEAF or Tesla Model 3.

Instead, its executives suggest that 100 miles of range is still the sweet point for electric cars — and to use a larger, longer-range battery pack only results in higher construction costs that get passed onto consumers.

As Automotive News (subscription required) details, Ford’s position on electric car range was made clear last week at the SAE World Congress in Detroit, where Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering told the industry publication that Ford had no immediate interest in making a 200-mile electric car.

Advocating that a smaller, lighter lithium-ion battery pack with smaller range would result in a lighter, more agile car with perhaps more load bay space, Layden seemed to imply that cost savings from using a smaller pack could give Ford a competitive edge in terms of pricing.

Speaking at a panel later at the same event, Layden reiterated Ford’s views, suggesting the longer-range Focus EV could get a price drop too.

“I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population,” said Layden. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”

Ford could secure the market in truly-affordable electric cars for $17k or less- but will 100 miles be enough?

Ford could secure the market in truly-affordable electric cars for $17k or less- but will 100 miles be enough?

Ford’s tactic — similar in some ways to the 110-mile expected range of the upcoming 2017 Hyundai ONIQ EV — certainly bucks the trend of making ever longer-range electric cars. If Ford can really bring the price of the Focus EV down to a more affordable range (it’s currently a rather uncompetitive $29,010 before incentives) then Layden’s argument could prove a smart move on Ford’s part.

But for a 100-mile Focus EV to truly cross-shop against a mass-market, 200+ mile range affordable Chevy Bolt, second-generation Nissan LEAF or Tesla Model 3, Ford would need to bring down the price of its electric car to the kind of level that its gasoline Focus sells at. For those who are wondering, that’s around the $17,225 point for an entry-level model. That’s something we think would be possible after incentives. We’re not sure it’s something Ford could do without incentives.

Throughout its history, Ford has always been a brand catering to mass-market, mainstream buyers. It has focused more on bringing tried-and-tested technology to market at the right price than it has at leading the market. Instead of pushing the boundaries, it has focused on making a technology more appealing for mass-market buyers. Its EcoBoost engine technology is the latest example of this: rather than invest in hybrid engine technology, it invested in making the internal combustion engine more efficient, as that (at least in the short term) gave it the most consumer impact for the smallest cost.

A mass-market, affordable 100-mile electric car is something that is very much needed alongside more expensive, longer-range models, especially if electric cars are to transition away from being something only the affluent middle class can afford. A $17,000 electric car with 100 miles of real-world range could not only revolutionise the way we think about electric cars, but could also increase the number of people who could afford an electric car by several orders of magnitude.

In order for that to happen however, there’s a whole lot more education that would need to be done of both dealerships and car buyers. As advocates and electric automakers have discovered thus far, statistics may prove 100 miles of range sufficient, but we humans are rarely content with adequate.

If we were, the hype around Tesla’s Model 3 simply wouldn’t exist.

Will more customers switch to electric if Ford brings a 100-mile electric car to market that competes with its own gasoline vehicles? Or is 200-mile electric vehicles the new norm?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Wild

    Not interested in a Ford EV. Tesla and Apple if they adopt the supercharger network are the future.

    • Putting my devil’s advocate hat on… even with Tesla quality control issues?

      • Chris O

        What about Tesla’s quality issues? Do Fords never break down? Tesla is serious about improving quality issues, and even when things break down it fixes them on its own dime. It may be an inconvenience but it doesn’t cost the Tesla owner anything. Anyway, Model 3 will be a much simpler car than S and (especially…)X, brought to the market by a carmaker that will have a lot more experience by the time it hits the market so it’s unlikely to show the same failure rate.

        Generally about maintenance cost: the big difference between Tesla and the likes of Ford is that Tesla doesn’t consider maintenance income as a part of its business model whereas the likes of Ford very much depend on that income, also to keep its expensive franchise dealer based retail model funded. One can be very sure that the need to generate maintenance income will be one of the design parameters for all carmakers, except Tesla that’s actually more interested in avoiding maintenance demand.

        • Martin Lacey

          Well said Chris!

      • Martin Lacey


        I heard you pull the pin out before you threw that grenade into the room.

      • Michael Thwaite

        Nope, Tesla has equal or higher quality control than any other EV I’ve owned. I’d describe their quality control issues as more new-tech growing pains as each problem is resolved as it appears. It’s more about the way that they deal with issues that wins hearts and minds. Like the way they resolved the battery pack being damaged by road debris.

        Speaking from my experience, here we go…

        Tesla Roadster – PEM FAN fuse blew – had to drive home gently. Ranger came out within hours and replaced the unit for fear it _might_ be at fault. Battery issue reported pre-emtivly over Cellular – Ranger collected in evening and returned next day.

        MINI E – Failure to charge, told to drive in, hung around for a few hours, finally sent home, replacement charger installed some days later.

        BMW Active E – Drivetrain malfunction, dead at the side of the road for ten mins. Never resolved – still persists with i3. Failure to engage parking brake – went into shop for some days and was returned un-resolved. Random Bluetooth pairing issues – told that it was my iPhone, later determined it was affecting all units.

        Mitsubishi iMiEV – Just worked but needed a 30 min stopover to replace a vacuum pump as part of a recall.

        Ford Focus Electric – Reports (not mine) of unknown “Stop Safely Now” issue that caused cars to cut out. Ford took over a year to identify the issue and why it affected some cars. Infotainment system that crashed/re-booted and generally caused navigation issues – after a year they released a DIY software update that you could download and apply if you were handy with a USB stick.

        BMW i3 – Random Drivetrain errors (not mine), Check engine light (not mine) still unresolved. Adaptive cruise control is unreliable – “Don’t use it”. Auto park ignores curbs and grinds alloys – “No it doesn’t”. Bluetooth flakey – “That’s your phone”, Tires create loud whub-whub noise – “That’s normal, all cars do that.” Steering wheel squeaks when cold – “No it doesn’t.” Motor mounts are weak and can shatter – “We’ll turn down the power when you next get a software update.”, Charging at full speed on L2 causes charging unit to overheat – “Turn it down.”, After six months they installed a new unit. Remote app is unreliable – “Yes.”. Speedometer over-reads – “That’s within spec.” and of course my all time favorite “We’re going to build out a national network of CCS charging stations.”… Crickets.

        SmartED – The heater seems out of control – TBD

        • It seems that ‘early adopters’ are expected to endure this kind of craziness. But given that list, would we be satisfied with these issues in an ICE car? I suggest not.

          • Martin Lacey

            What can’t be done OTA can be done at the Supercharger – such as seat belt checks. No appointments; no dingy franchise service center coffee/sludge; no mechanics looking for other “faults” to surprise you with; no hassle!

          • Michael Thwaite

            So, the same list but with gas cars:

            Toyota RAV4 (Look, we needed something that could be used as a van) – Endless hours spent having its oil changed because it needed to be serviced every 6,000 miles!!!!!

            MINI Cooper JCW: Cooling fan failure – trip to the dealer, several hours. Bent wheel caused by pothole (they are very soft wheels btw), limp to dealer, some hours to wait for a replacement tire and wheel, they then ground chunks out of the new rim trying to get the tire on that needed a second trip a few days later to have repaired.

            BMW x3 (I know, the shame) – Transmission issue, held in the shop for two days while they did nothing.

            Audi S6 Avant – Actually, it used a lot of oil but, hmm, that one never broke.

            Honda Insight – Water ingress, the dealer parked it outside in the sun for a day with the windows open – “Look, we fixed it.” Suspension rattle, the dealer sprayed grease over everything but failed to notice that the noise was caused by a missing exhaust hanger!

            The last one I repaired myself by re-hanging the exhaust.

            So, whilst there are teething troubles with EVs, I’m starting to wonder if they’re any different to any other option.

      • Wild

        Quality control issues can be solved and Tesla seems to be committed to resolving problems, they have to in order to lead the industry.

        • Martin Lacey

          Tesla have to be better than everyone else to make an impact as a new company on a very old block. Disruptive tech needs to be better in every conceivable way to move the masses away from the traditional ways. That’s why the Model 3 will be better than the current BMW 3 range – more “cow bells” as Elon Musk put it! Quicker acceleration, better road handling, more comfort, load space, gadgets etc. etc.

          • Wild

            Tesla needs to deliver an economical vehicle first and foremost.

          • Martin Lacey

            Tesla model 3 $35k (before EV grant) BMW 3 series MSRP $33k (before franchise discount)

            Factor in 5 years running costs @ 10,000 miles per annum and tell me which one is economical?

          • Wild

            Tesla needs to DELIVER an economical vehicle first and foremost.
            Let’s see what the price actually is at the time of sale.

          • Martin Lacey

            Tesla have guaranteed base model 3 will be $35k before incentives. If it comes in over that the motoring press and a lot of reservation holders will slate them.

          • Wild

            Yes and the company has a rather bad record to date. Throw in circumstances beyond control and problems appear.

          • Martin Lacey

            Care to substantiate and elaborate on that claim?

            To what “bad record” are you referring?

  • Chris O

    Tesla has showed convincingly what sells in meaningful numbers: supercharger supported 200+mile EVs. I think people just like the idea that they could reach any destination they want with their cars without too much of a hassle.

    Of course “meaningful numbers”is not necessarily what Ford is interested in, compliance numbers is. But even those numbers will rise rather drastically the next few years so that price had better be low or Ford won’t be able to move the metal even in compliance numbers now that 200 miles is shaping up to be the new norm for BEVs.

    I do expect that as before there will be plenty of bargain basement $99/month lease deals available for substandard compliance cars like Ford is proposing.

  • Andy Mitchell

    Yes, it’s all about perceptions and you can see that reflected in the other comments from folk who are (presumably) EV-committed. Not interested in a Ford EV? At $17K? Well, this is all about the whole scenario, not just someone who can afford a Tesla. I live in the Orkney islands off the top of Scotland. Perfect for an EV (I have a Zoe) as you cannot drive that far anyway and STILL there’s resistance. Even when you point out that the vast majority of journeys are under 30 miles. There is another point of resistance however – the time taken to ‘refuel’. The basic fact is that humans naturally resist change. I ‘refuel’ my Zoe with a grid-connected 6kW wind turbine – it’s very windy here. I was the first in this part of the islands and now 6 years later many farms and houses have them. So, the same with EVs – keep the faith and keep promoting them. If the manufacturers get them right, attitudes will change, there will be a tipping point and ICEs will be in museums. Hurrah!

    • Martin Lacey

      Hi Andy,

      Living further south in the UK I prefer a bit more range for family visits and occasional day trips. I also don’t like the battery lease system which Renault run – one of my reasons for going EV is to reduce the monthly outgoings and paying Renault instead of BP doesn’t sit well with that philosophy. 215 miles as offered by Tesla enables all my normal journeys, but not a full round trip, I feel the Model 3 is my best option as GM are not making RHD Bolts and Nissan haven’t committed. I tend to keep my cars for 10 years so the 3 will save me it’s purchase price in fuel savings and road tax at current historic lows. Servicing should also be a lot less over the lifespan of ownership. Plus it’s a head turner!

      • Andy Mitchell

        So you only run one car? On a family visit you can recharge whilst having the Sunday roast! Day trip similar. It does take some planning but it is about changing the way you think about it. Renault now offer either battery hire or buy the battery options. The beauty of hiring is that once it starts to die, they give you a new one – allegedly! I’ve quickly looked up the probable cost of the Model 3 and worked out that the monthly battery hire on a Zoe would last 12 years on the price difference. Thus you will reduce your monthly outgoings by buying the Model 3 but a) you will end up paying more (but get more car) b) be paying Tesla rather than Renault rather than BP and c) in 12 years time your £70 per month won’t be nearly as much as it is now, due to inflation. So, if you want a head turner, that’s fine (who cares – it’s a car) and if you have the money (The Model 3 is likely to be closer to £35k by the time it arrives in the UK but with the plug-in car grant factored in, it will still be very competitively priced. – Auto Express) then fine but it isn’t necessarily the best option.

        • Martin Lacey

          Tesla use weighting to protect from currency fluctuations. They don’t charge equity on $/£. I’m expecting the base price before incentives (if any remain) to be £28-30k using the following logic:
          (I’m sure our American friends will correct me if I’m wrong but I believe) The base price for the Model S is $70k Stateside, UK base price is £58.3k. Current exchange rate on $70k is around £48.7k ($35k = £24.3K) So the Model S is around £10k more than exchange and the 3 will probably be around £5k more.

          I have no idea why the UK motoring press assume parity, I’m guessing it’s just lazy journalism. If parity was the Tesla business model then we would be the first customers to see product as the mark up would be huge.

          • GodMk2

            Don’t forget US prices are listed without tax as each state has different rates, where as in the UK it’s 20% for VAT which is the biggest part of the difference. If you take the US price, add about £1,000 for shipping add the 20% VAT on to the cost + shipping fee (which is how it’s done), and you end up with a price very close to the US price.

          • Martin Lacey

            I guessed tax and shipping figured in there, but was too lazy to do even more maths!
            I still reckon the Model 3 base price in the UK will be sub £30k and definitely not £35k as our media are apt to quote.

    • Jeff Songster

      The ICE vehicles will probably rest in the museum aisles just down from the Stanley Steamers. Interesting to think of how much real estate and businesses will fade away as this happens. Loads of street corner lots will be converted. Oil Change stations… most mechanic shops. Will still need tire and brake shops.
      Then as automated vehicles take over. Body shops will fade to very few. Likely won’t need as many tow trucks as cars will crash far less often. Quick charge trucks will replace the largest part of the fleet and these might just be heavy duty vans carrying racks full of batteries in back with push bumpers on the front to nudge the cars off the road from the awkward spots they occasionally run out of amps. Gonna be interesting times. Keep up the fight!

      • StopTheHate58

        Houston will become a ghost town…

        • Jeff Songster

          Gonna wash away from global climate change anyway on current path. Check your elevation above sea level before buying real estate these days.
          In the next 10 to 50 years most coastal areas will be gone… want beach front property… buy at 50 feet of elevation…and wait 10 years… or a couple of days if a few more ice shelves break up above ground and slip into the sea. Greenland is an hour to 30 years away from rapid change everyday now… change so big that our world is simply ignoring it since they would cause a complete freakout if everyone who is about to be below sea level were truly aware of their status.
          One of my pals is mad because their property was recently added to the government flood maps and insurance is getting too expensive.. Makes selling tough… better to get out now… but no one wants to deal with this. SO…20 years ago I bought at 250 feet of elevation… on bedrock… good luck to everyone else!

  • Martin Lacey

    What a silly argument to say that 99% of trips are under 70 miles, therefore we don’t need to build a car with more than 100 miles range…. Why do the “gas tanks” on conventional Ford ICE vehicles allow 300- 400 miles per fill up? Because it’s what customers want!

    I think this is Ford speak for “we will only make compliance vehicles” which reflects a fossilized view as old as the combustible materials used to propel their automobiles.

    Or am I just being cynical?

    • Chris O

      You’re quite right. The “most trips are under 70 miles” statistic is interesting but the statistic that’s really interesting is 400K and counting reservations for a supercharger supported 215 mile EV. Clearly people want cars that can’t just handle their average trip but also the occasional longer trip. So rather than try to reeducate people that they don’t need the extra range -which they clearly do-why not give people what they expect from their cars?

      Of course Ford is not in a position to give people what they want, it did not invest in large scale battery production and high output quick charge infrastructure so it has little choice than to offer some incremental improvement on FFE at a no doubt money losing price level and hope it’s enough for at least compliance purposes.

      • Martin Lacey

        I’m guessing Ford buy their EV credits from Tesla and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As you say their current EV lineup was for compliance purposes only. A very short-sighted view which could leave Ford well behind if/when EV becomes cheaper than ICE.

        • Chris O

          I think most carmakers resort to dumping practices like bargain basement lease deals to move the compliance metal, the demand for low range EVs just isn’t that big. I doubt any incremental range increases will have serious impact on demand so I think the likes of Ford are stuck for now in a vicious circle of low demand-high cost, a circle that can be broken as demonstrated by Tesla but it takes the sort of vision that traditional internal combustion focused carmakers just don’t have.

          Ford is already years behind Tesla and it looks like Tesla’s lead will only increase for now.

  • Surya

    100 miles might be enough to satisfy the needs of most people most of the time, but that doesn’t mean those people will buy the car if there are 200 mile cars on the market that are affordable enough.

    • vdiv

      Dunno, people are really keen on that 5th seat and trunk space. If the extra battery eats them up they may think twice.

      • Surya

        How many proper EVs have that problem? Not the Leaf, not the E-Golf, not the ZOE, not the Model S, not the Soul…
        It’s more about good engineering than anything else. If you use the skateboard design, there is no reason why you couldn’t provide good trunk space and a 5th seat and great range in one car.

  • vdiv

    Charging, charging, charging…

    As someone here pointed out, no one asks what the range of their gas car is, because they can refuel it pretty much everywhere they go.

    If Ford rolls up their sleeves, implements faster charging, and rolls out a fast charging network, 100 mile range indeed covers a lot of people’s needs.

    The reason why gas cars get 300 to 400 miles range today is that their efficiency has gone up. 16 years ago I drove a Tacoma pickup truck made at the former Nummi plant with a 3.5 L V6 guzzler and jacked up suspension that would almost get 24 mpg on the highway, and with a small fuel tank not even 200 miles per fill up. I’d drive 500 miles from NJ to NC and would have to stop and fill up twice. It wasn’t a problem, there were many more gas stations and gas was still relatively cheap. That Taco was really terrible, but I was young and stupid, it only took a couple of accidents to get rid of it and drive something much safer.

    Funny enough now I drive a vehicle still made at that plant, but no more gasoline 🙂

  • Albemarle

    I think Ford’s position is a difficult one to make a profit with. The battery is only a portion of the price of the car. With half the range of a $37,500 car, if you don’t need 200 miles, how much of a discount would it take for a consumer to buy a 100 mile range car that is comparable?

    When I compared the Bolt to a 30 kWh Leaf, in Ontario, after rebates, I calculated the Bolt would be about $6,500 more expensive. So for me, everything else being equivalent, is double or 100 miles more range worth $6,500? And the answer for me is yes. It’s an interesting question to ponder what the price difference would have to be for me to select the Leaf. But, my point is that this discount is going to come completely from Nissan’s bottom line if they want me as a customer.

    It’s a poor business model to start with a less capable car and then sell it as discounted. I think Ford would be better off to make a 30 kWh Fiesta which would help it focus on the market that is willing to live with 100 mile range.

  • Joe

    I always take issue with the statistic that “99 percent (of trips are) under 70 miles in length” which leads to the conclusion that a 70-mile range is enough. The trips at the top half of the 99%, 35 miles or more, cannot be made back home without charging. So destination charging is necessary in a huge portion of those trips, which is often not feasible right now. And that’s assuming the weather is nice. If you’re running the heater, that 70-mile range car can do only about 40-miles.

    I drive a Model S with a 265-mile range and commute about 90 miles per day. It seems like this battery pack is overkill even for my long commute, but when I’m running the heat for 6 months out of the year, and driving in inefficient snowy and windy conditions a few of those months, and not charging all the way to 100% to ensure battery pack longevity, that means I get home with about 10% of my pack remaining. Sure, it’s not 1%, but it’s low enough that it feels like I’m cutting it close. I hold the position that the longer the range of an average EV, the easier mass EV adoption will be.

  • rconaway

    We have Leaf and unless they get 200 miles out the 2017 Leaf and it’s available before April next year, we are going Bolt. I love Ford but this is a stupid argument on their part. They don’t make any money in the electric car business because they are doing it half-ass. Nissan and GM are going to eat their lunch until Tesla actually produces the Model 3. If they hit their price point with all the chargers they have, it’s over. Tesla will be the Amazon/Google of cars and the big 3 will get crunched.

    • Martin Lacey

      Interesting thoughts rconaway, however corporate America has a very rich history of growth and expansion through acquisition and with Apple investing heavily in project Titan I expect someone will try to buy out Tesla or merge.

      Apple changes everything in the sectors it enters and things will be happening in boardrooms and R&D plants we’re not aware of – YET. Throw Goooogle into the mix and the automotive sector looks “sexy” as the investing community say!

      • rconaway

        It’s a long journey from building a prototype or developing technology to building a car company. I really don’t think Apple is going to make much of an impact compared to Tesla or some of the bigger car manufacturers. Tesla is the new Apple when it comes to cars.

        • Martin Lacey

          Apple has got $billions more than the big 3 and Tesla to invest in this sector if they so choose…. in fact they could buy out all four companies and still have change to spare (Ford $55b market cap; GM $51b market cap; FiatChrysler $11b market cap; Tesla $33b market cap). Apple has something in the region of $200 Billion in it’s reserves.
          Apple are the masters at sector domination and do so without having to be price competitive…. their fan base spend three times as much on their phones, tablets, laptops and pc’s than the average Windows Android and Linux counterparts. They still dominate with the ipod and an icar is a significant threat to every auto maker including Tesla.
          I can’t afford a model S or X and am saving every penny to buy a model 3. I share your sentiment concerning Tesla and the current automobile market but I don’t think we can discount Apple. They have seamless and desirable tech and have some of the best automotive engineers in the world working on project Titan. If it’s a car as everyone thinks it will be as desirable to Apple devotees who can be numbered in their millions, as all their other products.

        • Martin Lacey

          Another thing to consider is that Apple don’t make anything – all their gear is made by third parties!

  • 130 is new 80.

    I believe that BEV’s of less than 130 miles range will struggle to sell. Ford make a good point, not every BEV needs 200+ mile range, but with 200+ mile range BEV’s on the market 100 miles isn’t going to appeal anymore.

    If this was still 2010 we’d all be applauding 100 mile BEV’s. Times change.

    • Martin Lacey

      200 is about to become the new 130… and so it goes!

      If Ford stand by the mantra of 100 miles, they will reach a point where no-one will buy.
      Perception about range at this point is the sticking point for anyone dipping their toes into EV ownership. A perception instigated by a wary press which hasn’t dissipated with the passage of time!

  • Stanislav Jaracz

    I wonder why Ford talks about more load bay space when their Focus EV has most of its cargo filled with battery pack. They are reluctant to make dedicated design for EV platform with battery in floor just like any other manufacturer. I imagine that in the world where EV is norm and people got used to it, they will be happy with a 100 mile EV commute car while also having >200 mile EV in the family for the occasional longer trips.

  • Schmidlack

    I am one of the early Leaf owners and have now had mine for 5 years and 50,000 miles. 100 miles of range would be fantastic. After all, EV’s are primarily commuter cars for the 80% of the population that lives in urban areas. You use it just like you cell phone, use it during the day, plug it in at night. Frankly it would be a waste of money to pay for and drag around a 200mile battery when you only use less than 100 miles of it 95% of the time.

    • Martin Lacey

      Always good to hear from an early adopter!

      The problem is that a range of 100 miles or less restricts EV’s to commuter/city cars and/or the 2 car family.

      200 miles+ and a lower cost base move EV’s into the wider market of 1 car households and general use.

      I think 100 and 200+ range vehicles can currently co-exist if pricing and infrastructure permit. But Ford are saying never to making an EV with a 100+ range!

  • Electric Bill

    I am unlike any of the rest of you: years ago, I felt so dirty to be buying gasoline from our very worst enemies– OPEC, and more specifically Saudi Arabia, who financed the 9/11 attacks and led us into a multi-trillion dollar war– that if there were no EVs in showrooms to buy, I would find someone to help me convert an ICE car to a NICE car.

    I now have two fully electric EVs, both of which are one-of-a -kind; both have a range of 100 miles or so, and both are more problematical than any production EV, for the very reason that the drive trains were cobbled together; there are no service manuals for either of them. Problematical, but that uniqueness is perhaps worth all the trouble, and I do love the comraderie.

    My EVs have given me unique perspectives.

    There has been much discussion among all of you about range, without bringing up some important points. Many of you may be old enough to remember the Yugo, a pitiful little critter from Communist Yugoslavia that got lots of attention when it first reached the American shores all that attention because it only cost $4000. for a brand new “car” (yes, I use the term loosely). Yugos quickly began to sell in huge numbers based solely on its price tag, but they had so many “quality control issues” (again, how can you refer to “quality control” when there WAS no quality?!) that “Yugo” quickly became synonymous with embarrassment, and useful lifespan which could be gauged on a stopwatch.

    Interestingly, the Korean Hyundai entered our market right about the same time, with a similar rock – bottom price and similar quality issues, but the two car companies had radically different outcomes– Hyundai quickly set about building quality into their products as much as possible, but Yugo, who was used to being able to get away with terrible quality simply because they were overseen by Communist politicos, cared nothing about improvement. Yugo faded from our sight for good while today Hyundai is still inexpensive, but consistently has among the highest quality ratings.

    The lesson is that so long as Ford can entice shoppers with a rock-bottom price, they can be sure to attract buyers such as (likely idealistic) high school and college students whose one desperate priority is getting back and forth between school, home, and their miserable, minimum-wage McJobs. Where Ford goes from there will determine how successful their EV venture will be– if the average entry-level Ford EV can handle the minimal needs of those buyers, Ford’s EVs just may be able to carve out a niche. But if their cars develop a rep for petering out on the road and requiring tows or other extreme measures, they may not only sully their own reputation, but may scare many potential buyers away from EVs completely, at least for a while.

    Another factor here is that “range” you mention; if a student figures on just being able to fit their daily commutes into the 100-mile capability of their little car, they are likely to run into problems– new EVs really DO need to have an extra mileage buffer of 30% or so, since chronically driving an EV too close to its range limit ages the battery prematurely. And, as that premature aging takes its toll, its maximum range will shrink faster than it otherwise would and that car will suddenly be little more than a brick.

    There are many other factors that may make predicting the road ahead for EVs nearly impossible.

    Imagine if Elon Musk had taken an entirely different direction than he did– it is ever so likely no one else would ever have developed the same business model as he had, and today we would still be struggling to build good PR for EVs… there would be just a trickle of EVs making it to showrooms even today, and they all would likely be just compliance hardware just to get by with emissions regulations… none might be true efforts to build an actual EV market segment as Musk has done, and with the kind of financing necessary to do it well.

    The wild card now could be that someday, maybe very soon, some fellow with the brilliance and ethics of an Elon Musk may emerge seemingly from nowhere, with The Next Battery. Maybe something from recycled orange peels and banana oil… or graphene made from seaweed, or sewage… almost anything just might be the key. But whatever it is it will be sustainable, cheap and disruptive, perhaps even for the Gigafactory– or it may be the exact thing that the Gigafactory uses as its battery feedstock.

    … or, maybe not… tue, next Big Battery may simply be somewhere in the netherworld between evolutionary and revolutionary… something just good enough to push a car as basic and mainstream as Ford’s little car, but cheap enough that “enough” would be more than enough, and, affordable.

    I am optimistic this will happen, big or small–Musk says there are 60 + battery chemistries from various chemistry research labs, universities, etc., none of which are ready for production, but the sheer numbers– dozens of them– it is, inconceivable to me that they will ALL turn out to be duds. One or more of them will give us a new clean future WITHOUT a dependence on OPEC.

    The lithium ion, lithium iron phosphate and, other battery chemistries we use, in our EVs today have as, much as four times as, much energy density as the cells we used just 15 years ago, and progress has been steady both before then, and, after… every year the best batteries are a little better than the year before, and that alone should tell us there are more breakthroughs to be had.

    One very exciting possibility is that any reliable battery chemistry that could give us three or four times the energy density we have today could be enough to disrupt aviation– imagine standing just outside LAX, watching planes as they depart– without fumes, without noise, and without the expense.

    I digress.

    Any such battery would be smaller, lighter, and provide increased range, acceleration and agility with no other modifications necessary. It would be disruptive to the max, in the ways Jeff Songster mentioned above. Imagine: an “ordinary” family sedan like a Tesla Model S, with such a small, light battery pack, could embarrass today’s most powerful Ferraris… that muscle car would have to upgrade to electric, or suffer the humiliation of performance that is subpar to a seven-passenger sedan… a crisis of identity for that macho marquis.

    Another distinct possibility: Many have denounced charging EVs while enroute, but there are many ways this could be accomplished, such as cars with ultracapacitors and inductive charging coils below; at every stop light and stop sign an EV could get a jolt of juice to help it get to the next stop. There is a town in Korea that has already begun to create such an infrastructure, and, likely others we, do not yet know about. Such a, system would need only the smallest of battery packs, and due to their lightness would be extremely efficient, powerful, agile and inexpensive, both for purchase price and, operating expense. Inductive charging is less efficient than direct charging from a cable, but such an inductive system installed in our roadways would actually be more efficient due to the small, light battery packs, would require less energy to operate the car.

    With a convergence of such technologies, and self-driving technology as well, discussions of bargain – basement EVs with minimal range could be akin to the early days of computing when we would fret over just how much RAM or hard drive space we could afford or need.

    Do all of you also find it so much more refreshing to be discussing matters here than in Facebook or other personal media where you have to GUESS what a person is trying to say, or spell, or even try to reckon which side of an issue someone is on? Users in this room are just more LITERATE!

  • Brian Kent

    It’s heartening to see Ford have the courage to take what I believe is the alternative correct stance on this.

    Contrary to popular opinion–which is based largely on the views of drivers who have little or no experience with electrics–customers will ultimately gravitate not to what they THINK they need but what they ACTUALLY need.

    While I think some of the statements in this article are inaccurate, Nikki has one thing 100% right here: it will take a good deal of education before people will really accept electrics. Before they will evolve to the point of realizing that the “300 or 400 mile” metric of cars is 99% irrelevant. Below, Martin Lacey repeats the hubris again–a metric which primarily serves to reduce the frequency of uniformly unpleasant trips to disgusting gas stations. It does essentially *nothing* else for the vast majority of drivers.

    The introduction of 200 mile range EVs stands exactly zero chance of “shifting the acceptable range of EVs from 100 to 200 miles.” It will not happen and the reason it won’t is because price has always and will always remain a prime consideration. 35 kWhr more for $5000 more–or even for $3500 more–will still be too much for many people.

    By slow diffusion, people will invariably come to accept what they do in every other sector: they plainly will not buy significantly more than they need. And when it comes to shrewd small business owners–using light duty limited range electrics for deliveries–this is doubly the case. Lower priced batteries are also less expensive to replace, and potentially less subject to cell balancing issues.

    I’m very interested to see where Ford goes with this, and again I admire this sort of antiestablishment take on where this is all headed.

    • Martin Lacey

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion. The argument you make appears, in part, to be based on pricing.

      On the 300-400 mile point I merely stated that ICE vehicles have a gas tank which when filled offers that kind of range – I never stated EV’s needed to do the same!

      In the UK the new leaf (107 EPA range) has an MSRP of £30k… about the same price as the (215 mile minimum real world range) Tesla Model 3. The Nissan is available today, the Tesla in about two years.

      Nissan sales are slowing – is this because EV’s are reaching saturation or because people are waiting for more range?

      The price issue will be answered by the arrival of the 200 mile range Chevrolet Bolt and the pre-orders for the Tesla Model 3 having surpassed 400,000 blows the saturated market argument out of the water. Fortunately Nissan have already (mistakenly) shown off a 60KWhr battery pack and this could also account for the slow down in the current Leaf model sales slowdown… I hope so, because I want Nissan as the original trail blazer to succeed.

      I may be wrong, but I think the market has spoken!

    • Martin Lacey

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for joining the discussion. I feel I need to comment on the 300 – 400 mile range issue before making some general comments.

      I said that Ford ICE (internal Combustion Engined) vehicles have a gas tank which permits 300 – 400 mile range. At no point did I say EV’s (Electric Vehicles) need to do the same, though it would be nice!

      The bulk of your argument boils down to price and not infrastructure (charging network).

      Current Nissan Leaf SV 30KWhr battery has an EPA range of 107 miles and costs $34k before incentives and discounts. 2017 Chevrolet Bolt 200 mile range starts at £37k before incentives and discounts. Next year will answer your question concerning price. 2018 Tesla Model 3 reservations already past 400k and will start at $35k before incentives is already proving that range and infrastructure figure in most folks buying equation.

      I think the slow down in Leaf purchases in the US is because those willing to convert to EV PERCEIVE the need for more range based on the media “range anxiety” stories of the very early EV’s which were capable of 30-50 miles on a charge. Good news is that everyone knows Nissan have a 60KWhr version in the works, which may account in part for the slow down in Leaf sales. By the way the 30KWhr pack weighs just 46 pounds more than the older 24KWhr pack, so weight is not so much an issue as some folks make it out to be!

      Tesla are the only manufacturer working on both issues and are reaping huge benefits in sales and aspiration ownership.

  • John Livesey

    I drive a 2012 Leaf and in my real life experience Ford is absolutely correct. The difference between me driving 50 miles to the big city from my rural small town, to shop or attend a concert, is one 15-20 minute stop at a level 3 fast charger. I have never experienced range anxiety as I start my day with fully charged battery. Until recently I only used the supplied level 1 trickle charger to charge overnight at home. After seeing an upgrade project online I converted my portable factory Level 1 for $20.00 to a level 2 to make it more useful if I decide to travel. As there are 10 level 3 fast chargers evenly spaced within 50 miles of me, and more on the way, I only use a level 2 charger if it happens to be nearby, but I usually leave them for people who aren’t over their range anxiety phase yet. I live near the US border in south west British Columbia Canada If I decided to visit the San Diego Zoo in southern California I can hop in my first generation electric car and using fast chargers I can drive down the I-5 highway the full length of the western US and do so. This is my day to day experience in operating my car and I haven’t even mentioned the value proposition, or the environmental advantage yet. The money I don’t spend on gasoline, maintenance, oil and filter changes etc, is literally paying for the car. I know a lot of what I’ve said is possible because our Local and Provincial Governments have supported the charging infrastructure here and that may not YET be the case where you are. Most of what you read here is uninformed opinion based on he said she said, and little or no experience in EV use. Ford and Nissan and other manufacturers have done their homework. First generation electric cars have been
    “Viable” from the start and with improving charging networks are more and more ” Practical”. I think a bit more range is good thing but a lot more range ,more cost, isn’t really needed. If you can get a 125-150 mile EV and keep the cost down so more people can afford it, the sooner more people will buy them. Finally, if you really wan’t to know what the Real EV driving experience is like, talk to owners who have Real EV experience. Remember also to keep an open mind as there is a difference between Hearing and Listening.

  • Martin Lacey
    • Martin Lacey

      Ford lasted a week before they changed their mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Loanword Eggcorn

    Ford is right. 100 miles range is plenty for most real-world, actual, daily driving. Tens of thousands owners of Leaf and other EVs with range under 100 miles seem to agree. The main thing that more range enables, especially 200+ miles, is long road trips. Fast chargers also help make long road trips possible. But most daily driving is done within 20 miles of home. Fact.

  • Dennis Tivey

    Ford didn’t invest in hybrid technology? How weird, then, that I drive a Ford C-Max Hybrid, and my work fleet has a Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, and my boss has a Lincoln hybrid sedan, and my friend has a previous-generation Ford Escape Hybrid.

    Thirty seconds of research would have saved your credibility here.