Ford Exec Admits Hybrid Battery Shortage

The new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid —the first mid-size sedan to break the 40-mpg mark in city driving—could become the hit that Ford so desperately needs. Unfortunately, Ford is already claiming that it can’t get enough hybrid batteries to meet potential demand.

In an online chat with employees last week, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said, “We are constrained by the amount of components, including batteries, that the supply base can provide us.”

During the peak in gas prices in mid-2008, interested shoppers were unable to purchase Ford Escape Hybrids due to lack of inventory.

The Ford Fusion hybrid leapfrogged the Toyota Camry Hybrid to claim the fuel efficiency crown for full-size four-door sedans. The official EPA numbers for the Fusion Hybrid released last week—41 in the city and 36 on the highway—could give the Detroit automaker a much needed morale boost in the midst of the deepening economic crisis. Industry observers continue to question if Ford, and other carmakers producing hybrids in relatively low quantities, are making a profit on gas-electric vehicles. Nonetheless, these companies earn public relations points for producing vehicles with high mileage.

Key features and benefits of the Fusion Hybrid include: all-electric cruising speeds up to 47 miles per hour; a more efficient regenerative braking system; optimized electronic throttle controls; and a cutting-edge dashboard interface that coaches drivers on maximizing fuel efficiency.

“Our biggest challenge in 2009, in my opinion, will be our ability to continue to stay ahead of a very volatile market,” Fields said. The Ford Fusion Hybrid goes on sale in Spring 2009.


  • Shines

    Come on Duracell and Eveready – get in the game…

  • ACAGal

    GE is supposed to be making batteries too.

  • steve rydel

    And you wonder why Ford is having problems making money.

  • JonnyL

    Rita the Riveter made Bombers for WWII. Where is Betty the Battery Builder for the “Energy Crisis” ?

  • Mark T

    Actually it was “Rosie the Riveter” who built the bombers, probably at Willow Run.

    But I like your reference to Betty the Battery Builder.

  • PW

    Ford has been making the Escape hybrid for several years. They should have started their own battery division to make them so they could have enough batteries to handle their current and future hybrid sales. It hasn’t been a secret that Toyota has fantastic success with the Prius. Consumer interest in hybrids is continuing to grow each year, especially when the oil cartels continue to rip us off at the pumps by raising oil prices. Are the car makers going to continue to whine about the battery shortage or start making batteries so we don’t have to hear their excuses why they can’t bring their next generation of hybrids to the market?

  • Scott Monty

    The batteries for the Fusion & Milan hybrids are going to be nickel metal hydride, as opposed to the more expensive lithium batteries of the earlier generation hybrids.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  • Hurls

    Hey, I went to my local dealer to place a deposit down and order a Fusion Hybrid, and decided against it when the dealership told me it would be produced in Mexico. Sorry folks, but I am not going to support a company that wants a tax payer LOC of 9 Billion and then builds their newest, most promising design outside of the country! Say all you want about Unions and legacy costs, but they could have built a new, non-union factory in a non-union state with comparable pay and benefits to the Japanese companies, but decided to stick it to Americans once again! Sorry Ford, nice car and sounds promising, but it will not get my money until it is made/assembled in America.

  • John K.

    Scott,

    First off, glad to have you here.

    Second, congrats to Ford on the excellent EPA mpg numbers! The city’s mpg is even better than expected.

    Third, didn’t you mean to write, “as opposed to the more expensive lithium batteries of the *next generation* of hybrids”? What “earlier generation” of hybrids came with Li ion batts?

    Fourth, I look forward to when Ford offers a plug-in version of the Fusion hybrid (and Li ion or EEStor). If Ford could be the first car company in America with a PHEV (not just the first *American car company* to offer a PHEV), that would be quite a blow to GM’s Chevy Volt PR campaign and Toyota’s Prius.

    Competition is a good thing!

    John

  • Jennifer Moore Ford Motor Company Communications

    Just wanted to clarify that we have enough batteries to build the hybrids we are bringing to market. We have planned to double our volume with the addition of our new hybrids, the Fusion and Milan, joining the Escape and Mariner. If customer demand requires more, we will work with our supplier partners to meet the demand.

    And yes…the Fusion and Milan hybrids will be equipped with nickle metal hydride batteries – smaller and with more power in each cell than the earlier batteries used. Lithium Ion batteries still in development…and much more expensive.

  • jvoelcker

    Jennifer

    Quick question: Does this mean double the TOTAL volume of hybrids FoMoCo sells, i.e. from 25K Escape/Mariner/Tribute Hybrids to 50K Escape/Mariner/Hybrid/Fusion/Milan Hybrids in total?

    OR, does it mean that you will sell twice as many Fusion/Milan Hybrids as you do Escape/Mariner/Tribute Hybrids?

    Your note was a tad unclear ….

  • Ross Nicholson

    Ford is trying to make as much money as it can. I understand that. Mexico needs jobs, too. Ford can sell these cars in Mexico, and maybe some up here, but demand is going to be way more than that. Ford needs to redesign cars for dramatic improvement in efficiency.

    Making the cars here would make Ford more of an American car company. American car companies that employ Americans should benefit more from American government largesse. American car companies that do not employ Americans should also benefit from American government largesse, but less, a lot less, to make up the difference that out-sourcing costs our economy. Let Mexico help them out as Canada has.

  • Collin Burnell

    Wow, I am sad to hear that the car will be assembled in Mexico. Part of the reason I chose to lease a Nissan Altima Hybrid is that it is assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee.

  • Collin Burnell

    Also, since we have some Ford execs in the conversation… Please don’t make the same mistake Honda is making now with the HCH… they have not figured out that they are loosing sales by not offering the car in any exciting colors. It’s as though they assume that a Hybrid buyer has little or no pulse or that they only fit into a particular category or personality… well, maybe I am reading into it too much but, nevertheless… Give me a Bright Red and an Awesome Copper and a Magnesium Blue (What color is Magnesium anyway?)… :-p

  • Bill Cosworth

    Its not where the card is made it’s where the profits are going

    High tech jobs, research.

    Why do you care the car is made as long as the engineering design and profits are staying the USA.

    People are so stupid. If you buy a Honda or Toyota made in the USA then they are converting the USA into Mexico. Manual blue color labor.

    The profits, engineering, and high tech design stay in Japan. People you need to think about the whole picture but you are worrying about where a car is made is silly. That’s 2% of the total cost . There are parts, engineering jobsetc.

    American engineering students are taking jobs in India now because of the lack in the USA.

    If you want your son or daughter to be an assembly line worker go for it and buy a Toyota.

    IF you want your Son or Daughter to be an engineer or production manager buy a ford.

    Simple.

    http://www.levelfieldinstitute.org/files/scorecards/Ford_v_Toyota.pdf

    Buying a ford is buying into American future.

  • Frank Neztol

    Apple computers are made in china

    But when I get one I know my money is going to CA.

    CA Silicon Vally.

  • empowah

    The Fusion is made in Hermosillo because it’s exported to South American countries, which have a 20% tariff on US-made goods, but none on Mexican-made ones.

    The Escape Hybrid is made in Kansas City, MO by American workers.

  • Sam J.

    collin – what is your beef on the civic hybrid? it comes in neutral colors. you won’t buy a car just because of of a color problem; get it painted something more bright to fit your “bright” personality!

    this seems to be ford’s last resort in re-introducing the american concept on hybrids, and it’s good to see that they are focusing on efficiency versus performance. yet they are bringing out a new mustang and a new gt500, makes a lot of sense. how about affordability? the honda insight, with its production version available on showcase at the detroit auto show in under a month, will more than likely be the most affordable.

    the reason why automakers are still making hybrids with ni-mh batteries versus lithium ion is because of the whole fiasco with the laptop battery issue over the past year. there is still a development issue which is driving the cost of putting them into a hybrid up. the first one to bring a lithium ion batteried hybrid would be going out on a limb and risking law suits at the moment.

  • Jeroen

    Why not use the Altair Nano batteries, charged in 10 mintues.

  • C

    I think avoiding a Ford Fusion b/c it’s assembled in Mexico is flawed – would it make a difference to you if it were made in Canada (there is a Ford Canada) … Ford, like other companies, is multinational. And building in Mexico means less illegal immigration and other opportunities being taken away from American citizens.

    Let’s face it, the U.S. needs to realign everything – you are not just experiencing a rescession, you are experiencinig a “contracting” economy on all levels, which means most tangible things are valued out of whack from home prices to union wages.

    BIG NOTE: you do realize that the Ford Escape Hybrid is made in Kansas. Ford tested this hybrid with the help of Mazda and Toyota (there were IP agreements and tech sharing were done w/ the latter – Ford wanted to make sure that Toyota was on notice that it was not stealing patented tech), built in America and now, as the global company it is, will make it in the Americas too – in Mexico. So what, Ford Fusion made in Mexico and other industries and jobs will rise in the U.S. for blue collar workers – blue collar jobs are just that – jobs – not professions to aspire to.

  • Tim Yeager

    When is Ford going to make this car in a union shop in the USA? I have been waiting to purchase a USA-made, Union-built genuine hybrid car. I absolutely will not spend this kind of dough on a vehicle built in a non-union shop in Mexico, and neither will thousands of others who are concerned about jobs and living standards of workers.

    Ford, get your head out of where it is, and back in the game.

  • Jeff Sexton

    It is both. Where the car is made means working class job that pay enough to make house payments. It means there are factories in the US and more infrastructure in times of emergencies. Like war? Where the profits go means long term growth for that country. I may want my son or daughter to be an engineer, but they might end doing something less. Millions do. And it would be better if they made enough money to live on. It would be better for all of us. Then they would pay more taxes, not be a drain on the health care system and on and on….People aren’t so stupid.

  • Frank Rex

    Been 3 weeks since I picked up a Fusion Hybrid

    I LOVE IT !

  • GV

    Ford is going to purchase American Lithium an american company who hold the largest amountof lithium deposits in North America.

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