Nancy Gioia on Ford's EV Future
In 2009, Ford Motor Company made Nancy Gioia their Director of Global Electrification, a responsibility that could, she tells EV World in this exclusive 'Future in Motion' podcast interview, encompass anywhere from 10 to as high as 25 percent of the company's global vehicles sales by 2020; a number totaling in the millions of vehicles.
That's clearly an ambitious projection, especially the latter number given the presumed high costs for electric-drive vehicles compared to their petroleum-burning counterparts. So how does Ford justify its numbers, we asked her the week after the company debuted the Focus EV and Energi electric hybrids, both based on their global C-platform?
Unlike both GM with its Volt and Nissan with its LEAF, both dedicated vehicle platforms, Gioia explains that Ford chose its most widely produced vehicle platform on which to develop its electric vehicles. The company turns out some 2 million C-platforms-based vehicles annually and has plans to eventually produce 10 distinct models form the Focus to the Escape around it. When the first 5,000-10,000 Focus EVs roll off the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant line starting later this year, they will have been built along side gasoline models. When the electric hybrid (PHEV) version called the Energi begins commercial production in 2012, it too will come off the same line. This strategy allows Ford to match production with demand, as well as retain its skilled work force.
Gioia notes that whether the transition from petroleum-dependent IC engine vehicles to electric drive is relative slow and steady or more sporadic with 'fits and starts,' Ford's strategy allows it to adjust more easily to whatever develops. She also noted that by 2012 all Ford electric-drive vehicles from its hybrids to its all-electric models will be using lithium ion battery packs. While the cells will be sourced from global suppliers, development, testing, integration and manufacture of the battery system, she stressed, will be done by Ford, principally in Michigan, which is rapidly becoming an EV center of excellence.
We asked her about Ford's view of strategic resource issues such as China's increasing reluctance to export its rare earth elements necessary for high-powered, permanent magnet motors using in hybrids and electric cars, or concerns about the availability of lithium. You can hear her responses in this 16-minute 'Future in Motion' podcast, available exclusively to EV World Premium subscribers.