Ford Moves to Electrify Its Lineup; Stays with Trucks
Ford gathered the media this week to say what virtually every other automaker has already explicitly stated—cars and trucks are getting electrified. The subtext was: Ford is not going to be left behind, but the company is also not going to step away from its cash cow pickups and SUVs.
Clean Fleet Rerport was there. Ford led with its trucks and followed with its SUVs, then brought hybrids and electric vehicles into the discussion as the clean up.
The F-150 is the king of the hill at Ford
The Ford F-150 is the king at Ford. It’s been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 37 years; the best-selling pickup for years beyond that. In its presentation, Ford boasted that the company brought in $41 billion on that model alone. If the F-150 were a stand alone company, it would have more revenue than Nike or Coca-Cola. Ford has dropped EcoBoost engines into the F-150 and intensified the use of aluminum throughout the truck, dropping weight and increasing fuel efficiency.
Up next for the pickup is a 3.0-liter diesel engine that comes later this year, followed by a hybrid powertrain in 2020. The goal as always is to increase efficiency while maintaining capability for customers.
In addition, Ford will reintroduce the compact Ranger next year.
After Trucks Come SUVs
Number two at Ford are SUVs. Ford’s Explorer broke the category open in the 1990s and they haven’t let up since. The compact Escape and the current Explorer carry the bulk of Ford’s SUV sales right now, but the just-introduced subcompact EcoSport will be part of an eight-vehicle lineup by 2020. Five of those SUVs will have hybrid powertrains.
Ford sees a big future for SUVs
Probably acknowledging the juggernaut that is cross-town rival Jeep, the new SUVs will not only have the environmental credentials from their hybrid powertrains, but will also stress off-road capability and performance (borrowing from the F-150 Raptor phenom).
As it showed with its move to aluminum in the F-150, Ford is not afraid to throw its volume products into radical change. That’s the rationale it presented to media this week. While not the full-shift of a Volvo committing to electrify all of its product line in a few years, Ford did say it would hybridize its high-volume models—the F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco.
Ford promises that its next-generation hybrids will not be as space-intrusive as the current ones (check out storage in the Fusion and C-Max) and, at least as important for the customer, less expensive. The reduced packaging and cost are behind Ford’s expanded embrace of the technology.
Battery Electrics Too
With its only battery electric (BEV) offering the compact Focus, Ford has not made any inroads into either the market or public consciousness. At the last Detroit Auto Show, Ford teased its next BEV. The implication in the grainy video was it combined the performance of a Mustang with spaciousness of a crossover, but all under electric power.
Ford’s pledge is to take hybridization mainstream–Mustang/F-150/Explorer
The 2020 model will be the first of six BEVs Ford will put on the market during 2020-22.
Ford also renewed its commitment to the commercial vehicle segment (where it commands a 38 percent market share), though without any nod to increased efficiency (other than the new diesel engine in the Transit Connect).
In addition, Ford said it was bundling its driver-assist technologies in a package branded as Ford Co-Pilot360. It’s also moving to implement over-the-air- updates to software, something that Tesla has done for years.
Maybe one of most significant announcements Ford made is that its goal is to accelerate the new product cycle for the company. It’s current showroom product averages 5.7 years in age. By 2020 it says that age will drop to 3.3 years. The reliance on trucks and SUVs, which tend to have longer product cycles, may have lulled Ford into this type of product cycle. The good news, if as they cite, 50 percent of vehicles by 2020 could be SUVs, the customer expectation is they will respond like most passenger cars, which get a two-year refresh and full redo every four years.
The bottom line is Ford has stepped up to the bar and said it intends to complete with advanced technology and electrification, hedging only that they will continue to offer what they see as the vehicles most want—trucks and SUVs.
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All-electric SUV Gets Social Media Launch
The newest e-Tron (joining the A3 e-Tron plug-in hybrid) is Audi’s first purely electric vehicle, which the company is showing it off in a unique way. Before it was shown at the Geneva Motor Show, nearly 250 of the prototype development vehicles were turned loose on the streets of Geneva wearing a stunning (electrifying?) design film. Audi invited people who saw the cars to post their photos on www.e-tron.audi, too, using the #etron hashtag, making it an audience participation event.
Hiding in plain (Off) Site
The spacious, five-passenger prototypes are part of a test fleet that will travel to four continents to accumulate more than 3 million miles in all kinds of climate conditions, in temperatures from a freezing -4 degrees to a roasting 122 degrees. They’re going to use every kind of charger, public and private, to make sure customers will have a smooth experience moving into pure EV motoring.
This is a good practical idea, but also creates some great marketing opportunities. The specially designed camouflage highlights rather than hides the new vehicle’s styling and helps create more buzz. Read more about how Audi’s designers came up with the special look for these prototypes.
Some Hints of Detail
The car’s official uncamouflaged introduction is slated for later in the year. Although official stats weren’t given, the e-Tron Quattro’s concept shown earlier claimed to have a range in excess of 300 miles with a 95-kW battery pack, using three electric motors with a total output of 320 kW. You’ll be able to top off the battery in less than half an hour using 150-kW fast-charging facilities.
The Audi e-tron badging was not camouflaged
The e-Tron Quattro should be available in Europe later this year, debuting on August 13th at the Audi Summit in Brussels, the site of the factory where it will be assembled. It will compete initially with the Tesla Model X and Jaguar i-Pace in the luxury EV crossover segment. Audi plans more EVs in the next several years, including two more by 2020, and will field a wide assortment of 20 EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2025.
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Big Battery, But When Is the Kona EV Coming to the United States?
Subcompact SUVs have become global big sellers, so a big nod to Hyundai for being the first to introduce a version with a battery-electric powertrain. As the name suggests, the Hyundai Kona Electric is the all-electric version of the automaker’s new gasoline-powered Kona subcompact crossover-utility vehicle. Sized between a Kia Soul and a Honda HR-V, gas models are offered with all-wheel drive, the Electric is front-wheel drive only.
A Whopper-Sized Battery
When it arrtives in Europe later this year, the 2019 Kona Electric will offer two versions. The more expensive variant will carry around a 64-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-polymer battery pack, Hyundai says that it earns a driving range of 292 miles. That estimate is based on the Worldwide Harmonized Light-duty Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which closely matches the EPA’s test cycle. That outdoes the 236-mile figure that the same procedure cites for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Big battery, but will we see it here?
Without going into specifics, the Korean automaker says drivetrain output is 201 horsepower (hp) and 291 pounds-feet (lb.ft.)of torque. That’s enough to quietly whoosh the Kona Electric from a standing stop to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds.
The base Kona Electric model, packing 133 hp and 291 lb.ft, of torque in its electric motor, wrings out 185 miles of range from a 39.2-kilowatt battery. It’ll hit 62 mph in an okay 9.3 seconds.
A strength for the Hyundai Kona Electric is battery charging. As with Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Kona EV will be able to take advantage of speedier 100-kilowatt Combined Charging System (CCS) DC hardware. With such a connection, the larger pack can get to an 80 percent state of charge just as quickly as the smaller battery. But with a Level 2, 240-volt connection charging and the 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger, the Kona Electric with the smaller pack reaches full in about six hours, versus nearly 10 hours with the larger pack.
Mostly Same-o, Same-o Styling
The Kona Electric looks pretty much like its gas-powered siblings, with the biggest visual difference up front. It now features a closed-off grill with the charge port next to the Hyundai logo
Nothing wrong with hitting a hot segment with an EV
. Other changes include LED daytime running lights above its LED headlights and a distinct front bumper with lateral air curtains that enhance the aerodynamics by reducing turbulence in the wheel arch area. The design theme of the front is picked up at the rear.
For the hip crowd that wants the latest in styling, the Electric can be ordered with a two-tone roof.
Inside the electric Kona is a near repeat of the gas models with a softly styled dash and a 7.0-inch central infotainment display. A new high-resolution 7.0-inch cluster displays the different gauges, such as the speedometer, battery charge level, energy flow and driving mode to the driver. The Kona Electric also packs an adjustable regenerative braking system hidden in the shift paddles, which can generate a few extra electrons for the battery when slowing down.
For comfort, front seat passengers will have heated and cooled eight-way powered seats. A heated steering wheel is optional.
Tech and Safety Features
The base audio system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. High-end audio know-how comes from Krell, including eight channels at 45 watts per channel. The Kona Electric comes standard with a USB port and an AUX jack. There’s also connection for every smartphone you can name, and you can pop your device onto a wireless charger if it’s new enough.
Inside, everything you liked from the gas Kona
Standard is Hyundai’s SmartSense suite of active and passive safety systems. It includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. Optional are forward-collision monitoring, blind-spot and cross-traffic warning systems and a driver-attention warning system.
Hyundai plans to launch the Kona Electric later this year in Europe and South Korea before “hopefully” bringing it to the United States. While no U.S. pricing was revealed, expect the base model to have a sticker price of at least $30,000 before incentives.
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Geneva Motor Show
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Images of Polestar 1/Showroom Released Ahead of Geneva Motor Show
Its new owners are taking the Volvo car brand to places it has never been before. The best evidence will be shown to the European public for the first time this week at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. The Polestar 1 will be the flagship of this new sub-brand focused on electric performance.
First car for the Volvo electric performance sub-brand will be the Polestar 1
Order books for the Polestar 1, a plug-in hybrid GT, will open shortly, while production is slated to start mid-2019. According to Volvo, interest has been strong in the 600 horsepower (hp) coupe that will offer 93 miles of all-electric range. Two electric motors producing 218 hp drive the rear wheels while a 2.0-liter gas engine powers the front. That range can be expected to drop if you put the 738 pounds-feet of torque to work.
The Polestar 1 is also one of the first vehicles being sold on a subscription model. Buyers will pay an all-inclusive monthly fee covering vehicle use, insurance and including a pick-up and delivery service for maintenance, a number of car rental days and access to a range of concierge and on-demand services.
A Minimalist Cube
Prior to the show Polestar also showed drawings of its new minimalist cube retail stores and its headquarters, which is being built on Volvo grounds in Sweden. Polestar started as the performance brand for gas-powered Volvo tuner cars, essentially the Swedish version of AMG. It now is a separate brand with its own engineering and R&D departments, but still will benefit from the scale of larger parent Volvo.
The Polestar 1’s interior follows recent Volvo styling trends
The brand’s retail stores, called Polestar Space, will open in mid-2019 in the U.S., China, Germany, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. Other country locations will be added later. Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 models, both full electrics, are planned to follow next year as well. Polestar 2 is described as a midsize battery electric vehicle designed to compete with the Tesla Model 3; Polestar 3 will be an all-electric SUV.
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Geneva Motor Show Sees First Tesla Model X Competitor
Jaguar has joined the ranks of other automakers who reveal all-new vehicles just a few days before major auto shows. In this case, the British automaker revealed its much anticipated I-Pace battery-electric crossover SUV this week, one week before the public opening of the Geneva Motor Show.
The reveal of the I-Pace took place at the Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing facility in Graz, Austria, with a special live streaming show as the first I-Pace rolled off the production line. As expected, the I-Pace is little changed since the concept was introduced at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.
0-to-60 MPH In 4.5 Seconds
We’ll cut to the chase and get right to the heart of the I-Pace. Under the alluring sheet metal are two Jaguar-designed concentric electric motors—which feature driveshafts passing through the motors themselves for compactness—placed at each axle, producing all-wheel drive. The two motors produce a net 394 horsepower and 512 pounds-feet of torque. With all four wheels being electrically driven, it’ll romp to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
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A 90-kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery sits between the two axles and is mounted low, contributing to a 50:50 weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. The battery will keep the I-Pace going for an estimated 240 miles (EPA and European measurements are still forthcoming). With a 100-kW DC fast charger, it can go from empty to 80 percent charge in just about 40 minutes. Using a 7-kW Level 2 home charger, it’ll take about 10 hours to add the same amount of charge.
Like other modern EVs and plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs), the I-Pace offers multiple brake-regeneration settings. In its strongest mode, one-pedal driving is feasible when the driver turns off the car’s creep mode. (Creep mode allows the EV to roll forward when the driver’s foot moves off the brake, like most gasoline cars will.)
Looks Pretty Close To the Concept
The 2019 I-Pace has a compact body and is fairly low to the ground for an SUV, but it still seats five while offering plenty of cargo space.
The electric powertrain is designed to enhance the road experience
“The I-Pace’s electric powertrain offered us unprecedented design freedom,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar’s director of design. “Starting with a clean sheet enabled the dramatic cab-forward profile, unique proportions and exceptional interior pace. Yet, it is unmistakably a Jaguar. We wanted to design the world’s most desirable EV, and I’m confident that we met that challenge.”
Its sleek, coupe-like silhouette was influenced by the Jaguar C-X75 supercar concept. That includes C-X75 styling cues with a low, short hood with the automaker’s traditional grill and a built-in hood scoop for aerodynamic improvements. The vehicle has a coupe-inspired styling, sweeping front fenders, muscular rear haunches and flush door handles with a slippery 0.29 drag coefficient.
The rear is squared-off to a sharply angled rear hatch window that features a hydrophobic coating so there’s no need for a rear wiper. Tail lights feature a “chicane line” signature, a new Jaguar design element that replaces the more traditional E-Type round design.
Classed as a midsize SUV by its physical footprint, the cab forward design and packaging of the EV powertrain mean the I-PACE offers interior space comparable to a full-size model. The SUV affords a rear legroom space of 35.0-inches and a useful 0.43- cubic foot central storage compartment in a space that would ordinarily be occupied by a transmission tunnel in a conventional vehicle. Also in the rear, tablet and laptop storage can be found beneath the seats; while the rear luggage compartment behind those seats offers a 25.3 cubic feet capacity, a generous 51.0 cubic feet is available with the second row seats folded flat.
The I-Pace interior is all Jaguar style and quality
In typical Jaguar fashion, the 2019 I-Pace’s cabin is pure luxury. A glass panoramic roof is standard, and the interior can be had in either leatherette or proper leather. As you might expect, you can toss in some pretty fancy trim pieces made from real aluminium or ash wood.
The I-Pace uses two touchscreens to control virtually all vehicle functions. Called the InControl Touch Pro Duo system, the infotainment screens, upper 10-inch and lower 5.5-inch units, are cleanly integrated into the vehicle’s distinctive floating center console. The top half takes care of infotainment duties while the lower half deals with climate control, seat and drivetrain settings. Another 12.3-inch interactive driver display behind the steering wheel can be configured to show vehicle operating data in a variety of formats.
A suite of smart range-optimizing technologies includes a battery pre-conditioning system that allows the vehicle to warm or cool its battery and cabin to an optimal temperature while plugged in to power. The I-Pace will also have its own Amazon Alexa skill. This will allow owners to check the car’s range, lock status and more without leaving the house or even picking up a smart device.
The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is on sale now in Europe and will be available in the U.S. in the second half of 2018 as a 2019 model year vehicle, in S, SE and HSE derivatives as well as a one-year-only First Edition model derived from a very well equipped HSE trim. U.S. pricing will be announced on March 6, in conjunction with the vehicle’s debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. However, Jaguar has already opened up preorders for U.S. buyers.
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