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When Chrysler and General Motors both declared bankruptcy last year, everyone was looking at Ford Motor Co. to do the same. Instead, Ford stayed strong and posted its first profit (of $3.2 billion) in three years.

The company has managed to cut its reliance on Sport Utility and large vehicles by advancing its fuel-efficient car research (partly thanks to its operations in Europe). Today the company has announced that it’s investing USD $135 million ($163 million) to produce electric and hybrid vehicles.

The company plans to bring all the research and development of such vehicles in-house and produce at least five electric or partly-electric (hybrid) models by 2012 – the idea being that at least a quarter of its vehicles will soon make use of electric power.

The investment will see 220 new jobs created at three Michigan facilities. That includes 50 engineers for a new R&D centre to be created in Detroit plus 170 production workers at two Michigan plants.

The five new models will include two electric and three new hybrids vehicles which should account for around 10-25 percent of the company’s global sales by 2020.

Ford has been at the forefront of layering this new technology into their vehicles,” Michael Robinet, an auto-industry analyst with CSM Worldwide, told AutoNews. “It’s been an incremental strategy, but one that’s well thought-out and bodes well for their future.

The four Ford hybrids currently on sale (not in Australia) only accounted for 1.6 percent of the company’s light-vehicle sales in April.

The heavy investment is not all due to For’d change of heart towards the environment, as with other manufacturers Ford has to comply with new “average company-wide fuel economy” rating of 35.5 miles per gallon (6.6L/100km). European union will see this figure drop to just 5L/100km in 2012.




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