DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is developing an electric vehicle with range comparable to the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3 and next-generation Nissan Leaf, CEO Mark Fields said.
Fields, asked whether the automaker intended to offer an EV with a 200-mile range, said Ford wants to be “among the leaders or in a leadership position” as more automakers introduce long-range battery-powered cars.
“Clearly that’s something we’re developing for,” Fields said last week during Ford’s first-quarter earnings conference call.
Fields’ comments, while lacking details, are the first time a top executive with the company has acknowledged plans to directly challenge Tesla Motors and the Bolt.
Fields didn’t say how soon such a vehicle could go on sale. Ford is expected to call it the Model E and assemble it starting in 2019 at a new plant in Mexico that the company announced last month.
The Model E likely would be offered as a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and EV, according to research firm AutoForecast Solutions. Ford has a pending trademark application on the Model E name.
Ford sells the Focus Electric with a 76-mile range. It’s increasing that to 100 miles this fall, but even that is just half the advertised range of the Bolt, which General Motors says will arrive this year, and the Model 3, which is expected to go on sale within two years. In addition, Nissan North America plans to offer a redesigned Leaf that goes at least 200 miles in 2018.
At the SAE World Congress last month, several speakers said a range of at least 200 miles per charge is needed to alleviate consumers’ range anxiety about battery-powered cars. But Kevin Layden, director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering, said the Focus is enough to satisfy.
“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,” Layden said. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”