Ford Plug-ins Expected Within Ten Years

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Dearborn-based automaker FoMoCo will be producing plug-in hybrid vehicles in 5 to ten years according to the company's Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally. The announcement came at a press conference where Ford and Southern California Edison formally announced their partnership towards the future of PHEVs.

"Within five to ten years we will start to see this technology in our hands," said Mulally. When asked whether Ford plug-in vehicles will be available on their dealerships, the Ford CEO answered "Yes. Sure."

According to Mulally, the production of practical plug-in hybrid vehicles depends on how long it takes for them to produce a practical lithium-ion battery pack for automotive application. Lithium-ion battery packs are seen as focal point of plug-in hybrid vehicles of the future.

PHEVs are essentially hybrid vehicles, having a powertrain composed of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. What drives the electric motor is the battery pack. A PHEV is a hybrid with a plug-in capability. This means that its battery pack can be recharged by plugging it into an electrical socket.

Lithium-ion batteries are powerful energy storage devices which mean they can store power which can power a vehicle over long distances. This means that for car owners driving around the city everyday, the need to refill their tanks with petroleum fuel will be virtually eliminated.

This advantage of PHEVs is what Ford and Edison are looking to exploit. The working relationship between the two companies is expected to find solutions to problems posed on the mass production of PHEVs. But with complete dedication on the part of the two companies, we may soon see numerous -equipped Ford PHEVs in our roads.

The partnership between the second largest American automaker and the second largest American electric utility company has already received praises from different groups. One of the groups which have commended this joint venture of Ford and Edison is the Freedom from Oil Campaign. According to Rainforest Action Network Campaign Director Sarah Connolly and Global Exchange Campaign Director Mike Huderna:

"We applaud Ford's bold commitment to build the first ever road-ready, consumer-class plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Consumers have been waiting a long time for an automaker to offer the next generation of ultra-fuel-efficient, gasoline-optional cars. Plug-in hybrids could very well be the key to breaking America's destructive oil addiction by giving consumers a viable alternative to the gas-guzzling cars and trucks currently clogging our roads and polluting our atmosphere."

The environmental group also stressed that the partnership encourages their effort to take steps to further protect the environment. "Plug-in vehicles, which use proven technology that is capable of achieving over 100 miles per gallon, make the U.S. Senate's goal of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 seem painfully conservative. We are encouraged by what appears to be a sincere effort by Ford and Southern California Edison to chip away at the auto industry's longstanding relationship with Big Oil. By being the first automaker to put a plug-in hybrid on the road, Ford is leaving its competitors in the dust."

The Freedom from Oil campaign concluded its support of Ford and Edison's initiative by saying: "Powering America's cars by electricity rather than oil will help America kick its oil addiction once and for all. Yet, despite the hope raised by today's announcement, plenty of work remains. Utilities must earnestly begin the shift away from dirty coal and toward renewable energy sources. A green grid powered by wind and sun can cleanly recharge car batteries and help tackle our twin crises of oil addiction and global warming."