GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Ford Motor Co. this week said its global electric vehicles plan is extending to Europe. Ford will offer five full-electric or hybrid vehicles across its C, CD and light commercial vehicle ranges for European customers by 2013. 

Specifically, Ford will launch two zero-emission full battery-electric vehicles including the Transit Connect Electric light commercial vehicle in 2011, followed by the Ford Focus Electric in 2012. Three other vehicles -- two next-generation petrol hybrid-electric vehicles and a plug-in hybrid -- will be introduced in 2013. 

"We recognise that one technology does not work for all our customers," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development. "Our electrification strategy and plans include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles to best meet our global customers' needs. Leveraging our global platforms is also central to this strategy and allows us to build on our strong product line-up in the most customer-driven, affordable way." 

Ford said it has its sights on building a global portfolio of environmentally friendly transportation solutions. 

"Our goal is to provide consumers with access to significant fuel economy improvements and reduced CO2 emissions to meet their functional needs and without compromising their driving experience," said John Fleming, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe.  

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The first models to be launched in Europe will be zero-emission, full-electric versions of two significant models in Ford's global product portfolio. The Focus Electric will be based on Ford's next-generation Focus model and is one of at least 10 vehicles that will be developed from the company's new global C-car platform. Focus Electric will be introduced in the U.S. and Canada in 2011, followed by Europe in 2012.  

The Ford Transit Connect Electric is a zero-emission, pure electric-powered version of the Transit Connect light commercial vehicle and goes on sale in North America later this year. Ford is aiming to make the Transit Connect Electric available for European customers from 2011.

Ford also is planning to expand its presence in Europe with two all-new, next-generation hybrid passenger cars based on global platforms following in 2013. In addition, European customers will be able to opt for a plug-in hybrid model, also coming in 2013. 

"Thanks to the global economies of scale afforded to us by our ONE Ford initiative, I am delighted we are able to make the commitment now to deliver these models to customers in Europe, particularly as the demand for hybrid vehicles grows," Fleming said.

Further details of Ford's hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will be revealed closer to launch. 

Ford's product development team is participating in two specific European trial initiatives to demonstrate the technology in real-world driving conditions, and generate feedback to help develop further the Focus Electric and the Transit Connect Electric for market acceptance in Europe. 

In the U.K., a consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Strathclyde University is preparing later this year to run a fleet of zero-emission prototype Ford Focus battery electric vehicle prototypes, based around the current Focus model sold in Europe and using elements of the technology under development for the new Focus Electric. 

The vehicles will be used for evaluation by both SSE and a number of fleet and private customers based in Hillingdon, Middlesex from mid-2010. 

This new U.K.-based  BEV demonstration fleet is being created partly with public funding from the U.K. government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which promotes innovative industry-led projects that reduce CO2. The BEV research program aims to test the technology's suitability and to gain greater insight into customer charging behavior. 

In Germany, Ford has recently announced its participation in the colognE-mobil project. This initiative will research the impact of electric vehicles on urban air quality, traffic safety and the electricity supply infrastructure. Scientists will then scale up the results to examine the true benefits an electric future could deliver for German cities. 

Ford is one of four partners in the colognE-mobil project and will provide an early fleet of next-generation Focus Electric vehicles in late 2011. The other partners are utility company RheinEnergie AG, the city of Cologne and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The colognE-mobil project is partly funded by the German government and coordinated by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.   

"These initiatives are a revolution for both the utility and automotive industries," Fleming said. "Collaborating across sectors is essential to ensure customer-focused products that provide the right value along with the readiness of the infrastructure. We need to work and learn together and Ford is very pleased to be a part of these important trials."

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine

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