Ford to Build Hybrid F-150 and Transit Custom by 2020Posted in News on January 3, 2017 0) (
Ford announced it would add several hybrid and electric vehicles to its lineup by the 2020 model year, including hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup, Europe-only Transit Custom van, and Police Interceptor Utility. An unnamed, all-electric SUV with a 300-mile range will hit Ford dealers for the 2020 model year as well.
Ford’s most popular model and the bestselling vehicle in the United States for more than three decades is the F-Series pickup, so the announcement that it will be available as a hybrid is relatively seismic in terms of shaking up the automotive market. While it won’t be the first modern hybrid pickup (that honor goes to the 2004 Chevrolet Silverado), it likely will be much more sophisticated than any of the mild-hybrid entries available in the segment since that first Chevy.
Built in Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant, the company says its electrified F-150 will offer powerful towing and payload capability. Hybrid-electric technology should guarantee a wealth of low-end torque since electric motors make peak twist from a dead stop, and increased electrification makes it possible to turn the truck into huge, engine-powered generator (the 2004 Silverado hybrid had this ability as well). The F-150 hybrid will be sold in North America and the Middle East.
The U.S. and global markets will also welcome an all-electric Ford SUV into the fold by 2020. This utility vehicle, possibly based on the next-generation Escape or Edge, will feature a range of 300 miles per charge, eclipsing that of most current electric cars (only the Tesla Model S P100D beats it, with a 315-mile range). Ford’s newest EV will be built in at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan, where the also-confirmed Ford Mustang hybrid and unnamed autonomous rideshare hybrid will be made.
In addition to consumer-grade electrified vehicles, Ford also promised two pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles for the future. One of these vehicles will be built from the ground up in Chicago, and both will be upfitted from Ford’s dedicated police vehicle modification center in the same city. The company didn’t confirm it, but we assume the hybrids will be versions of the Taurus-based Police Interceptor and Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility.
Joining the commercial-hybrid fray will be the Transit Custom plug-in hybrid, available only in Europe. The midsize, front-drive van bears no relation to either the compact Transit Connect or the fullsize Transit sold on our shores, but it should help small businesses reduce costs on the Continent.
In preparation for the company’s newly electrified lineup, Ford will be making significant investments into its North American manufacturing facilities. Flat Rock Assembly will receive a $700 million cash infusion, earmarked for a new Manufacturing Innovation Center at the plant. The expansion will also make way for 700 new jobs and create space to produce the electric SUV and hybrid autonomous ridesharing vehicle. The Flat Rock Assembly investment comes courtesy of cancelled plans for a new assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Speaking of Mexico, Ford made some tantalizing comments about the Focus compact car’s upcoming move to the Hermosillo, Mexico, manufacturing facility. The Focus is currently built at Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Michigan, and the company promised that plant would remain open, retooled to produce “two new iconic products,” widely believed to be the Ranger and Bronco. Neither nameplate has been confirmed by Ford, but we can’t think of any other “iconic” Ford models better suited for a comeback tour than the compact pickup and off-roader.