Ford Germany's abortive e-Ka prototype electric car in 2000.
Ford's German researchers developed a lithium ion battery-powered Ka prototype in 2000 to explore the technology, while up in Norway, its recently acquired Th!nk vehicle program was being revamped in anticipation for production of electric cars to meet California's zero emission vehicle mandate. Both programs languished when the state delayed implementation of the mandate.

Ford's Vision for Better Electric Car Batteries

ACG Series: Senior manager Ted Miller offers Ford's perspective on the future of battery technology.

By EV World

Once upon a time, General Motors owned the electric car market... and then let it slip from its grasp when it cancelled the EV1. The mantel of EV leadership then fell -- briefly -- to Ford and its Th!nk unit in Norway, but it too saw little future in the battery-powered car. It sold the company in 2003 and concentrated instead on hybrids and fuel cells.

Both American giants came achingly close to owning this important developing market and now both are struggling to survive as sales of big, profitable trucks and SUVs plummet in the wake of $4+ gasoline.

So it is interesting to hear Ted Miller be introduced as Ford Motor Company's "senior manager of energy storage strategy, research and implementation for hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles." This suggests that Ford has not only gotten on board the hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicle bandwagon, but is now reappraising the potential role of battery electric cars.

Hindsight is so wonderfully prescient.

Of course, the key to the commercial success of any of these variant EV-designs is energy storage and Miller makes some interesting suggestions about potential power company synergies where both automakers like Ford and electric power companies collaborate on a common battery design in order to more quickly gain production scale advantages. Carmakers would use the batteries in their EVs and electric utilities would use them for renewable and off-peak energy storage, as well as power quality management.

He also notes that hybrid vehicle sales have tracked right along with the rise of gasoline prices in America since 2000, but that the recent spike in prices has thrown conventional economic forecasting out the window as people rush to buy hybrids, or more accurately, try to buy hybrids, which are now in short supply. He notes that it should take another five years, using previous trends, for hybrid sales to reach a million annual sales and for gasoline to reach $5 a gallon in the U.S.A.

Nobody now believes it'll take that long for gas to reach $5, he observed.

This MP3 audio presentation is the second in a series recorded during the 2008 ACG Advanced Automotive Battery Investment Summit held last month in Chicago. The previous speaker was Tesla's former CIO, Gene Glaudell. Also available is an EV World video of Dr. Ralph Brodd's presentation we've entitled Advanced Battery Market Review, which is available to all EV World readers.

EVWORLD Future In Motion Podcast

Download MP3 File

Times Article Viewed: 18386
Published: 06-Jul-2008


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