By on May 18, 2017

17FordEscape-Titanium_04_HR

Ford is admittedly behind its main rivals in terms of offering practical and purpose-built EVs but, when it finally comes to market in 2020, its first long-range electric should deliver what buyers want. When Ford announced its plans to launch an electrified crossover at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Chevrolet Bolt had already begun to lose its geek chic luster. However, we have to defer our judgement as Ford’s entry could eventually have an EV spec sheet that’ll make GM blush.

We’re beginning to get a better picture of the upcoming Ford — which I’m going to begin calling the E-CUV (electric crossover utility vehicle) since it doesn’t have an official name — now that the company’s chief technology officer Raj Nair has started loosening his lips. The upside is that it will be an affordable unit targeting everything the average consumer wants. The downside is that it’ll have competition early in its lifespan. 

“Our plan is for it to be an affordable vehicle, a mainstream model,” Nair told Business Insider. “To get electrification volumes where we would all like them to be we have to make sure we make the affordability targets or otherwise they are going to stay as a niche item or a pure luxury item.”

Nair didn’t specify what that number was but the figure that probably popped into your head was south of $35,000, which is a fair estimate. Another important number for EVs equates to range and, for the last year, the magic figure has been 300 miles. “We think we have a technology path that will get us a 300 plus miles range and an affordable crossover utility that will be fully competitive,” Nair said.

That would make Ford’s E-CUV exceptionally competitive, since that’s when range anxiety really begins to diminish for most prospective buyers. The Bolt manages a competent 238 miles per charge and the Tesla Model 3 is expected to be in that neighborhood as well. But it’s a neighborhood that will get more progressively crowded in the coming years — which Ford claims is a good thing.

“We always welcome the competition,” Nair said. “There are some aspects of the economics of battery-electric vehicles that are helped by scale. The more penetration we get, all of us are helped by the economies of scale.”

Normalizing EVs will certainly help volume in the long term as the platform gains supporters and the price of batteries starts to fall. However, a swath of proficient rivals won’t be driving up demand for the Ford unless it can best them. Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo are all planning on bringing compact electric SUVs to market within a similar timeframe — with the Tesla rumored to start production as early as 2019. Tentatively called the Model Y, its specs are entirely unknown, though it will use different platform than the Model 3 and is therefore likely capable of a longer range.

Nair seems undaunted, pleased that Ford has the opportunity to get in on the action with a strong contender right as the segment shifts out of niche mode. “We are excited about it, and I think it’s going to be hitting that inflection point where we are talking about fully electric vehicles not as a niche, not as a novelty, but as a very legitimate, high-volume opportunity for the industry and for the consumer.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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24 Comments on “Ford’s Electric CUV Could Lead in a Surprisingly Crowded Segment...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    The stated range is not even as important as the ability to quickly recharge when needed. Until you can recharge in a much shorter period of time than currently, EVs will remain a niche. Everyone seems to focus solely on that mythical commuter that drives X miles each way to work. Ok, so an EV can work for that person, but what about that soccer mom than is on the go all day but forgot to plug in last night because the kids had a meltdown? Or the Uber driver who has already driven 150 miles today and just accepted a long distance run? The genius of our current liquid fuel based transportation system is its ubiquity. Until chargers are as quick and plentiful as gas stations, there is only so much upside to EVs.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      At 300 miles, it’s less of an issue. Your average person rarely drives more than 300 miles in a shot. Even vacationers will only exceed that if they’re truly trying to make time.

      You’re correct when you suggest that 300 miles won’t cover everyone, all the time. It’s not a perfect replacement. It is however “good enough” for most situations. This is especially true for multi-car households.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And remember, at 4-5 hours of driving (300 miles) most people are hungry, so why not just plug in and walk over to the local restaurant and enjoy a proper break. 30, 40, even 50 minutes later you walk out to your fully-charged car, ready for another 300 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The new fast chargers that are coming are close to gas station speed. It will take less than 15 minutes to add 250 miles.

      “what about that soccer mom than is on the go all day but forgot to plug in last night because the kids had a meltdown”

      If you have the proper options, the car texts and emails you if you forget to plug-in.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        I kind of feel that if you lack the mental capacity to do very VERY basic sums in your head then dont buy a full EV?

        Either that or people just cant be bothered doing any kind of trivial mental calculations at all.

        You’re a harried soccer mom? I dont care. Uber? Go buy a Prius.

        If you want to stick with ICE, the world is your oyster.

        If you want a hybrid, there’s still plenty of options.

        If you want an EV, then be prepared to have to adapt your lifestyle to the car.

        IMO owning an EV is sort of like owning a sports coupe… I know my sports car cant take more than two people so I dont try to force it.

        Besides I have an 7 seat SUV as well. If I’m doing urban chores then something like a Tesla 3 would be perfect.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Why have a 7-seat SUV if your family only consists of you, your SO, a dog and two cats? I don’t try to say one type of car is perfect for everyone and quite honestly I get tired of seeing people say, “No one wants” or “‘x’ vehicle will be a niche…” The simple fact is that each class has its niche and there are a lot of ‘niches’ that aren’t even being addressed. I like what I like and you like what you like. I’m fine with that. If I want a true compact truck, why should anyone call me ‘stupid’ or whatever for wanting something that isn’t available?

  • avatar
    grrr

    It’s interesting how we perceive range issues to be a major, yet, the iPhone upon release could barely scrape a day’s battery life compared to dumb-phones of the same time doing 2-weeks; yet, we now all accept living with modern smartphones and 1-2 day battery life.

    I expect once EV’s become more common, and charging becomes easier, the range anxiety issue will become less.

    • 0 avatar
      rochambeau

      Not a very good analogy as the iphone blew away the competition on every other metric besides battery life.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Not a very good analogy as the iphone blew away the competition on every other metric besides battery life.”

        Actually it seems a very good analogy as EVs are proving stronger than expected in every metric besides battery life. Depending on the model, we’ve got sedans and crossovers able to out-accelerate and out-drive nearly anything short of a purpose-built sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’ve yet to have my phone strand me in the woods on a deserted country road at 3 AM in the pouring rain. Or anywhere, for that matter.

      Having a dead phone that can be charged enough to work anywhere from my car or any outlet is an inconvenient thing, I admit. But far less of an issue than not making it home because your usual commute was blocked, so you were forced to take a different route that significantly lengthened your travel time.

      In a gas car, there is significantly fue

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I have had my gasoline car strand me more than once on the road, either due to the economics of simply being unable to afford sufficient gas, having a needle that mis-reads the fuel state or simply not paying attention to the needle until it was too late; there is almost no difference between that and an EV’s charge state. With at least one brand, it is certainly possible to drive long distances between recharges and equally possible to drive longer distances with recharging; other EVs are beginning to realize the same benefits through the actions of VWG and independent, fee-based groups installing chargers in more usable locales than before. I will grant that such locations aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations today, but I expect they will grow at a sufficient rate to meet the needs of the common driver.

        What seems like a limitation for EVs is no different from what the ICEV suffered when it first came onto the market–even to the need of carrying some form of recharge/refueling containers along such as the old military-style “Jerry cans” and today having small, towable generators able to extend the battery’s range while traveling as seen particularly in France and trying to enter the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Sorry, that device glitches out too badly.

      My thought continued is that right now, gas and even Diesel cars hold a significant edge in fueling infrastructure.

      An unexpected delay or diversion is no sweat when you have 189 miles of range to spare and 12 places along the way that will sell you fuel if you should need it.

      Where you live, charging may be as easy as buying gas, or easier. But that isn’t the case everywhere, and until it is, EVs can only increase their range to lessen the chance you’ll find yourself out of juice and no place to charge, because life happens.

      Also, the capability gap between a smart phone and a flip phone is huge, without taking that into consideration, your hypothesis is deeply flawed. A Model S is not to a Benz S-Class what an iPhone is to Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ 2003 flip phone.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Most people live in more densely populated areas so range isn’t really an issue but for those who live in more rural areas, it is a huge concern. As far as running out of fuel, I do see it happen and depending on where you live, it can be a fatal error.
        One of things that was a positive when I purchased my F150 was the 136 litre (36 US gallon) tank. Under normal highway conditions, I’m good for over 600 miles. Off road or in poor conditions, I’m still good for 300 miles.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    How about a hybrid Escape please? Put the Fusion unit in the Escape. I don’t want a plug-in vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Or they could just add an AWD option to the C-Max, assuming it’s the reason you wouldn’t buy one already.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I really like my Escape Hybrid. If it disappeared I’d get another one. In urban use it’s now getting 35 mpg US. (42 mpg Imperial, or about 6.8L/100km)

      That’s with awd and it’s 7 or 8 years old. Self-appointed hybrid experts: where is the mileage loss as the battery ages?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “where is the mileage loss as the battery ages?”

        Yes, where IS the mileage loss as the battery ages? We simply don’t know because with the models already on the road, we’ve seen them go more than 8 years so far with no significant range loss and Tesla’s original battery packs have, through independent testing, indicated a minimum of 16 years on the road before realizing a maximum 20% loss of range. The range loss seems little different from what we would see with an aging gasoline or diesel engine.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    What I would love to see is a ground-up-designed-EV Lincoln-exclusive Model S competitor. Base a large CUV off of it too, for more of that economies of scale stuff.

    Lincoln would be pretty bold to go after the Model S and Tesla that way. It would certainly be more of a mic-drop moment than the Continental (not to complain about the Conti, but I think there is room above it for a real range topper).

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The general public doesn’t need a Tesla competitor. The general public needs a practical substitution for what they’re already buying. Tesla is too high-end.
      Leaf is too low-end. An Escape EV might be a better fit.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      Lincoln = luxury car; Tesla = performance car.

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjW8P64lPzTAhVLhlQKHQCqAowQFggiMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.autonews.com%2Farticle%2F20130725%2FBLOG06%2F130729925%2Fdont-let-the-price-fool-you—-tesla-says-the-model-s-is-not-a-luxury-&usg=AFQjCNGyed0qaAw55GKBNpM0mW7o2M14QQ

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    While the people of Tuvalu look for somewhere else to live because the sea is engulfing their country, Americans fret about ev’s requiring too much sacrifice. Snowflakes.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The sea isn’t swallowing Tuvalu – satellites have recorded NO sea level rise since the beginning of the satellite era – 1979. Tuvalu has an erosion problem, much of it due to the wartime construction of an airfield and deepwater port. The first caused damage to the fresh water aquifer and the second caused alteration of wave patterns that reduced sand accumulation on the beaches. Non-existent sea rise had nothing to do with it.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    EV range? EV recharge time? EV price? EV infrastructure? All interesting issues where major improvements are being promised, but the most interesting question is who will be the first profitable EV manufacturer without resorting to funny accounting practices or requiring generous EV subsidies to turn red figures into black?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I’m not sure, but my guess is that Nissan might be the one to do it. They do seem to know how to cut costs and they sell the Leaf worldwide. I think they have the scale to do it first.


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