Ford Motor Co. will double its battery-testing capabilities by 2013, add more jobs, and shift the design, engineering and production of key components to its Dearborn, Mich. headquarters, as part of a $135 million investment aimed at speeding up the development of its next generation of electrified vehicles by at least 25 percent.
Ford says it will reduce the cost of its current hybrid system by 30 percent from its previous generation system. The automaker is launching five electrified vehicles this year as part of its strategy to triple electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013 and offer more choices to consumers.
The five electrified vehicles are the Focus Electric, which went into production in 2011, C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, the Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.
Ford’s new hybrids and EVs aim to directly compete with Toyota, the market’s electric and hybrid vehicle leader. For example, the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, which will come to market this fall, has a projected electric-mode miles per gallon equivalent that is more than three times that of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid per EPA testing methods, Ford said.
The automaker said it has dedicated a 285,000-square-foot research and development lab in Dearborn to focus almost entirely on hybrids and electrification. The building, now called the Ford Advanced Electrification Center, will house most of the 1,000 engineers working on hybrid and electrification programs.
Ford says it will double its battery-testing capabilities to a total of 160 individual battery-test channels by 2013. Ford will invest in more of the highly specialized machines that can test and simulate power, performance and thermal behavior over a complete range of temperatures and possible operating conditions.
Earlier this month, Ford announced it will invest $220 million to transform Van Dyke Transmission into an operation capable of producing Ford’s new hybrid transmission, HF35, as well as other fuel-efficient transmissions. HF35 will be used in five electrified vehicles being introduced this year, including Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.