In January we reported on Ford’s big strategic expansion into electrified vehicles, announcing seven electrified cars with six more to come. Today Ford issued a press release about two EVs they will bring to the Chinese market: a plug-in version of the Mondeo (Fusion) sedan and an all-new fully-electric small SUV. The fully electric SUV has so far only been announced on paper, not given a model name or shown as a concept car. Ford’s only specifications are that it will have a range of more than 450km (280 miles) and will come to China “within five years.”
Ford called the two models “new” in their press release today, but they’re really “new-to-China” rather than new overall. The small SUV was already announced in the January strategic announcement linked above, and the Mondeo is just the “world” version of the car Ford calls the Fusion in the US. So it looks like these two “new” cars don’t actually represent two of the six unannounced cars Ford alluded to in their January announcement.
Perhaps more important than this announcement of a car which already exists – the Mondeo Energi – Ford has also stated that the car will be locally manufactured in China through their Changan Ford joint venture. This is a big deal, as locally manufactured cars get large tax breaks from the Chinese government.
One thing of note is that today’s press release states slightly different information for the mystery SUV. In the January announcement, it was slated for a 2020 release and was going to have a “300 mile range.” In today’s announcement, Ford has both lowered the car’s estimated range slightly (300 miles -> 280) and pushed back its delivery date from a definite 2020 (3 years from now) to the more vague “within five years.”
We hope the latter refers only to its availability in China, and that Ford will still launch the SUV elsewhere by 2020. But back in January we opined that Ford’s electrification strategy was welcome, but not ambitious enough, so it would be nice to see them pushing for wider, earlier releases (e.g. worldwide in 2020) rather than narrower, later ones. Hopefully they’ll give us some information soon about the six additional models they plan to launch in the next five years.
Ford also claimed today that they will electrify 70% of their vehicle models sold in China by 2025. This certainly seems to fit their claim of “ambitious” – assuming they follow through with it, and add plugs to these models rather than just making them only-gasoline-powered conventional hybrids (the difference between “electric” and “electrified”).
China is taking climate change quite seriously, and Ford’s efforts are likely a recognition of that. Not only is the country a huge vehicle market expected to grow rapidly, but Chinese federal and local governments seem likely to take drastic steps to curtail carbon emissions and limit pollution from gas vehicles. Beijing, a city of 21 million, already limits new vehicle registrations, but has exemptions for electric vehicles. That city’s target is to have 40% of new cars be electric – much higher than the current <1% new-car market share for EVs in the US. And Hong Kong is the world’s third largest EV market, a long way behind Norway but just behind Netherlands.
We’ll hear more about Ford’s China electrification strategy at a special event in Shanghai on April 8.