Planet Gore

Ford Picks a Battery Manufacturer

AP reports:

Ford Motor Co. said Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the battery system for the automaker’s first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle beginning in 2012.

Ford is also expanding its test program to include several utilities around the nation to speed up the commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The partnerships, being announced Tuesday at the Washington Auto Show, are part of Ford’s strategy to bring a battery-electric vehicle van to market in 2010 for commercial use, a small battery-electric sedan developed with Magna International by 2011 and a plug-in electric vehicle by 2012.

“As we move toward greater electrification of vehicles, we can achieve much more by working together toward a common goal,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering.

The lithium-ion battery system being designed by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls will include cells along with mechanical, electrical, electronic and thermal components.

Terms of the five-year supply agreement were not disclosed, but the companies have set a production target of 5,000 units a year. The cells will initially be produced at the supplier’s facility in France but eventually be assembled in the United States.

5,000 a year? That’s not a lot of cars.
The WSJ has more
on the topic, which I don’t agree with:

The auto maker that enters the market first and in substantial volume could have a significant advantage with first-generation buyers. Toyota Motor Corp., for example, eclipsed its U.S. competition in the gas-electric hybrid market with its Prius sedan. Other major auto makers — such as Chrysler LLC and Honda Motor Co. — also are pursuing electrification strategies as they bet gasoline prices will rise again and consumers will choose more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

We saw high gas prices last summer and some consumers did buy hybrids, but the vast majority chose cheaper cars that were nearly as fuel efficient as the hybrids. What this analysis above misses is that high gas prices impact the economy as a whole, and consumers cut back spending on everything, including cars. Unless these mythical electric vehicles have a payoff that makes economic sense, consumers won’t buy them.


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