An hour or so ago I tore into Chrysler for being the luddite of the developing green technology in vehicles market. Now, let’s take a look at a much more positive success in the space, at least as far as American automakers go anyhow, in the form of Ford. Fresh off of news that it continues to slowly cut down the lead of the Prius in hybrid sales – even as it also has to address fuel economy issues with some of its offerings – is word of its “best hybrid sales quarter ever.” Did you catch that Chrysler??
For the second quarter of 2013, Ford reported today, it had record hybrid sales of 24,217 vehicles. This is said to be up 517 percent over last year and 15 percent over the first quarter of this year. Having sold so many of this particular niche of cars has seen the company’s share of the U.S. electrified vehicle market grow “to nearly 16 percent in the first half of 2013 – a 12-point gain over last year.”
Leading the pack of Ford vehicles in this regard are its C-Max and Fusion hybrids, which are said to be seeing strong growth in California and “other new hybrid markets.” Some examples cited include more than 1,000 percent growth in New York, 840 percent in Chicago, almost 730 percent in Seattle and close to 500 percent in Washington, D.C.
And, in a nod to buying foreign hybrid versus domestic,
more than 60 percent of U.S. customers are coming from non-Ford brands, with Toyota and Honda vehicles the top competitive trade-ins.
Now I’m not saying Ford is the end all, be all of automakers in this space. It still has a lot of catch up to do to Toyota, and a lot of innovating to match the likes of Tesla Motors. For a company of its size though, it has shown some strong leadership in a niche market it only entered a few years ago, having now sold more than 46,000 electrified vehicles through June.
Ford spreads its green vehicle fleet across hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars, including the Fusion Hybrid, C-Max Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Focus Electric and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. It has some pretty impressive technical specifications going on amongst these vehicles, including the Fusion Energi’s EPA-rated total range of up to 620 miles; the Fusion Hybrid’s EPA-estimated rating of 47 mpg city, highway and combined; the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid’s EPA-rated 45 mpg city, highway and combined and the Focus Electric’s EPA-rated 110 MPGe city, 99 MPGe highway and 105 MPGe combined.
In announcing its current successes, Ford also gave a preview of what’s up next for its green technology under the hood, including a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system for pickups and SUVs that should be available by the end of the decade. There’s also a continued push to bring in-house more of the development of its most advanced vehicles. This latter item means more green jobs, and to that end the company is
“hiring more than 200 new electrification engineers and expanding its research facilities to speed development of hybrid and electrified vehicles.”
So, please excuse me a bit if this story sounds like PR spin for Ford. When I compare though the mundane, petri dish approach of Chrysler to the more balls to the walls attitude of its Big Three competitor when it comes to electrified vehicles (i.e. on track to triple its electrified vehicle production by the end of this year, compared with 2011), I can’t help but smile a little bit as I type the final period.