Mulally Prioritizes Ford’s High-MPG Technologies

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford, pledged yesterday to form an alliance with the Edison Electric Institute to work on plug-in cars. Speaking at EEI’s annual convention in San Francisco on Thursday, Mulallly outlined his company’s path toward high fuel-efficiency, which included—but by no means was limited to—electric vehicle technology.

Mulally said improving the current internal combustion engine through technologies such as turbocharging and direct injection—the core of the Ford “EcoBoost” program—is Ford’s top priority. Beyond that, Ford will pursue smaller vehicles, such as the upcoming Fiesta, as well as lightweight materials and transmission improvements. Mulally said that, contrary to conventional wisdom, “the US does appreciate smaller vehicles,” citing the success foreign automakers have had bringing in small, high-quality vehicles. Ford’s diminutive Ka, though popular in Europe, “might be too small for here, but we can have it here right away” if the market shifts.

Ford will utilize $5.9 billion in low-interest government loans, awarded earlier this week, to pursue its “improvement” strategies.

Moving down what Mulally called his “road map,” Ford will pursue alternative fuels and hybrids—exemplified by the E85-compatible plug-in hybrid Escape on display in San Francisco. “Our technology is such that we’re on our second, third, fourth generation of hybrid vehicles,” said Mulally. “Progress on battery technology is encouraging us that these technology advances will continue.”

Finally, Mulally said that the company is pursuing pure battery electric vehicles, which Ford will introduce starting with the Transit Connect small van next year, followed in 2011 by the Ford Focus EV. The Focus EV will be built in the same plant as the gas version, a facility converted from its former duty producing SUVs.

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles come further in the future, Mulally said. He reinforced his company’s ongoing commitment to hydrogen technology, despite the fact that US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who spoke right after Mulally, recently cut funding for fuel cell and hydrogen research. Mulally acknowledged that the “decreased federal investment pushes out the timeframe for commercialization” of fuel cell vehicles.

Mulally did not mention diesel technology in his list of technologies, but he was pressed on the subject in follow-up questions from the audience. He called new diesels “phenomenal” and said, “We will continue to improve them.” But he added that he doesn’t see sufficient market demand for them now.

Chu announced on Thursday $3.9 billion in federal funding for a “smart grid” to more efficiently distribute electricity—and to reduce peak loads while still supplying power for plug-in cars expected in the next few years. Funding for upgrading the grid will also be used to improve power lines and two-way transmission so plug-in cars can feed energy back into the grid. He commented that “nothing had been moving (in this area) at the Department of Energy” even though the money had been allocated for this purpose in 2007.


  • Need2Change

    I wonder when the Escape Hybrid will get the 4th generation hybrid technology that’s in the Fusion. 2010? Ford has been mum about this.

  • moishe k

    what is gen 4 Hybrid

  • Samie

    Agree w/ Need4Change also where is the Hybrid Focus to compete in the hatchback/sedan market? Talk is good but please produce! EV’s great but give consumers the best you can offer that competes against Toyota now…

  • Vgtech

    …and where is the Focus wagon hybrid or EV. Ford really dropped the ball on that one. It should have been their next hybrid, maybe two years after the Escape. I don’t know about the rest of North America, but in the province of Quebec the wagon versions of the Escort, then Focus far, far outsold the sedans. We had the highest fuel prices in North America for a decades, so I think people here see wagons as viable alternatives to Vans & SUV’s. When gas prices started climbing, Ford should have seen that what worked in Quebec would work in the rest North America and pushed the wagon. Instead they cancel it, but it is still sold in England where they have you guessed it, higher fuel prices.

  • Robcares

    How sad, I really had high hopes that Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford, was going to bring Ford into the 21st century and be a domestic competitor to all those foreign brands. It’s starting to look like the big three are afraid to even try to compete in the small Hybrid car arena. The Ford Focus is just about the only one that is even trying and that seams half hearted at best.

    No surprise here on the governments position with regards to Hydrogen fuel cell technology, which was a back door subsidy for the big three from the get go. Maybe now we can bury the hydrogen fuel cell idea once and for all, for those of you that are unaware why, I’ll spell it out;

    1) At present, in order to drive any useful distance, you would need to tow a small Airstream trailer sized fuel tank for your Hydrogen with you.

    2) The fueling infrastructure needed is years away, at best.

    3) Initially, the source of the hydrogen is oil, which doesn’t help our attempts at foreign oil independence. This takes a highly inefficient energy source and makes it even more so, by requiring even more energy to convert it.

    4) Supporters of hydrogen would point to water as the ultimate source of the hydrogen, which is even more energy dependent. There isn’t enough potable water around to make enough hydrogen now, so we would need to convert sea water. First you would need to desalinate the water, which needs a lot of electricity, and then convert that water into hydrogen and oxygen, even more energy required.

    For all of those reasons, the Bush administration chose to jump on the hydrogen band wagon, they knew it would take years if ever, to get to the point where hydrogen would compete with big oil, now hopefully it’s dead and we can move on to other alternatives to our automotive energy needs.

  • Charles

    I really like my 2004 Focus wagon. Just today I had drove myself, my girl friend and two bikes to the start of a bike ride. The bikes both fit inside the wagon. I am really happy that it is still running well, because there is not a good replacement for it sold in the US. The only vehicle that gets as good or better MPG, is PZEV and holds as much is the Ford Escape FWD Hybrid. The Escape Hybrid costs twice as much and is not as fun to drive (it is a much nicer vehicle). My hope is that the Focus will last until Ford starts selling the wagon version again, or better still a hybrid version of the C-Max (Mazda 5).

  • DC

    Why does anyone even trust, much less pay any attention to detroits announcements on such matters anyway? Fuel-efficent, electric vehicles etc etc, have been anywhere from ’1-5′ years or a ‘decade’ from the showroom floor for as long as I can remeber. Since at least the 1980′s I have been hearing that [Insert here] is just around the corner. Truely advanced NON-gasoline vehicles are like a mirage, they always appear to be just over the horizon, but no matter how fast or how long you travel, you never seem to get there. Of course PEV do exist now, but there relegated to niche markets, companies and applications, and that makes the dirty oil industry very happy indeed. AFAIAC, the N.A. car-industry produces 2 primary products, over-priced, over-enginered shitty vehicles, and their other product is, ……excuses.

  • Dave K.

    Don’t knock the only domestic building a viable hybrid and the only one that’s solvent! Would I like to see a Focus hybrid, or better yet a Focus EV? Sure! But as slow as it seems GM and C. are making Ford look brillant!

  • Bernard Lee

    Regarding the politics of the DOE ATVM Loan awards:
    So it turns out to be all the best loans money can buy.
    Ford paid over $14M to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Ford paid the third largest amount and Ford got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. 21 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal.
    Nissan paid over $10M to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Nissan paid the third largest amount and Nissan got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. The law and public statements by elected officials state that the money was to increase American competitiveness for America car companies yet the money was given to a Japanese company who will send all of the profits back to Japan. 7 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal.
    Tesla paid over $100,000.00 to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Tesla paid the third largest amount and Tesla got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. Tesla’s filings show that their business model is unsustainable compared to competitors, that they were 200% off on the BOM of their car, that all of their first funding was wasted so they have to pay back twice as much to investors as competing companies and that their technology is so old, it all needs to be redone yet they still got money. 18 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal. Tesla did not even read the rules for the loan and planned to build a building when the NEPA rules make that option impossible so they had to restart the process, which is supposed to put one into a new cycle yet they were kept in the previous cycle and put ahead of Fisker, Bright and others who had applied earlier than Tesla. Tesla provided massively creative accounting records to show that they were financially sustainable and have issued numerous press releases to try to make people think that but, in fact, the truth is that they are not because of bad management issues that they cannot get past.
    The ATVM program was created by Ford, GM & Chrysler lobbyists to pad their company’s pockets and those three had pre-hardwired the entire $25B for their own pockets but something happened in the process when Senator Bingaman added a few key lines that opened the door for OTHERS to apply to build green technology and required that those who get the money were “financially sustainable” businesses. Back when the ATVM was authored to save Detroit, it was fully known that Detroit was going to go bankrupt. Ford had the same problems as GM and Chrysler but they went around the world getting bailout money instead of going first to US funds. As law required public exposure of the bankruptcy, Bingaman’s brilliant plan to finally create a green transportation industry was revealed. The very people that had stopped green cars for over 100 years suddenly became the first people to, accidently, cause them to happen but now others could do it too.
    Bingaman should get the Congressional Medal of Honor for pulling off this impossible trick and finally giving America the Electric Cars it should have had for the last hundred years.
    Once Detroit realized this, they tried to hijack the whole ATVM program with a takeback at the end of 2008 but that effort was defeated by a close late night vote. Now that it was out there, Detroit lobbyists and influencers fought to get the review of applicants delayed for as long as possible because they realized that, in a recession, most of the smaller competing interests could be forced to go out of business if they could just be kept away from the money for long enough. Major American TARP banks have said that the standard commercial loan process that each of these 26 applicants (not hundreds of applicants- There were 26 applicants in the round) should take 4 weeks at the longest and 3 weeks nominally. The lobbyists for Ford & Nissan forced DOE to change the rules part way through and eliminate the “first come- first served” traditional American business ethic that had been written into the law of ATVM Section 136. They got it changed to “It does not matter how together you were, or that you had your application in on time, we are moving these three guys in ahead of you because they spent more money on the politicians and lobbyists”. It seems clear that the loans were delayed due to political agendas and not process issues. It is not that there were no resources for the review as the Section 136 law provided over $10M in staff fees to review 26 people (Banks spend $10,000.00 to review 26 applications)
    Bright Automotive had applied on time, ahead of the others, turned in low overhead numbers and a great path too profit but they were virtually ignored while intensive meetings were conducted with Nissan, Ford and Tesla because those parties paid for it. The law says that this, and the purchasing of favors, gave those parties an unfair business advantage using taxpayer dollars, over Bright. A case Bright would easily win if they choose to run with it.
    Clearly, it isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for the Senate, Congressional, Ethics Committee and media reviews of this one. Watch for the charts connecting who-to-who. (It is OK to re-post this)

  • Van leasing

    Ford Motor Co. unveiled plans today for higher fuel efficiency across its 2010 lineup.

  • LİDA

    The ATVM program was created by Ford, GM & Chrysler lobbyists to pad their company’s pockets and those three had pre-hardwired the entire $25B for their own pockets but something happened in the process when Senator Bingaman added a few key lines that opened the door for OTHERS to apply to build green technology and required that those who get the money were “financially sustainable” businesses. Back when the ATVM was authored to save Detroit, it was fully known that Detroit was going to go bankrupt. Ford had the same problems as GM and Chrysler but they went around the world getting bailout money instead of going first to US funds. As law required public exposure of the bankruptcy, Bingaman’s brilliant plan to finally create a green transportation industry was revealed. The very people that had stopped green cars for over 100 years suddenly became the first people to, accidently, cause them to happen but now others could do it too.
    Bingaman should get the Congressional Medal of Honor for pulling off this impossible trick and finally giving America the Electric Cars it should have had for the last hundred years.

  • iyimi

    ATVM program was created by Ford, GM & Chrysler lobbyists to pad their company’s pockets and those three had pre-hardwired