2017 Ford Focus Electric, from presentation on Ford electrification plans, Dec 2015Enlarge Photo
Electric cars with 200 miles of range will be the next big step in expanding the global market for plug-in vehicles.
Leading the charge will be GM, with the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV that will go on sale in less than a year.
That car will be followed at some point by the next-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model 3, which its maker says will go into production by the end of 2017.
But Ford, which has held back on battery-electric vehicles, has no immediate plans to join that party.
The company will update its Ford Focus Electric compliance car this fall with a higher-capacity battery pack, giving it a range of 100 miles or more, and add DC fast-charging capability as well.
But that's about it for now, according to an interview in industry trade journal Automotive News with Kevin Layden, Ford's director of electrification programs and engineering.
2016 Ford Focus ElectricEnlarge Photo
A range of 100 miles, Layden said, is adequate to cover most drivers' daily commutes.
Keeping the range down also reduces the weight and cost of the battery pack, making the car more affordable.
In the interview, conducted earlier this month at the SAE World Congress in Detroit, Layden suggested that the updated Focus Electric would be "really affordable" and would "satisfy a big chunk of the population."
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It will compete with today's Nissan Leaf, at 107 miles of range, and a 2017 BMW i3 with an updated battery pack that's expected to deliver 105 to 120 miles of range.
The 2016 Ford Focus Electric has one of the lowest battery ranges of any electric car on sale, at only 76 miles, and it does not offer quick charging even as an option.
2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - Nancy GioiaEnlarge Photo
Ford made a splash late last year with an announcement that it would commit $4.5 billion to expanding its lineup of electrified vehicles with 13 new "electrified" models.
The word "electrified" includes not only electric and plug-in hybrid models, however, but also conventional hybrids without plugs and even those with 48-volt enhanced start-stop systems.
Most industry observers expect only a minority of those 13 models to have plugs; most will be far more modest versions of electrification.
Much misreporting following the announcement, however, and numerous outlets touted Ford's plans to offer 13 new electric cars. We are not aware that Ford has made efforts to correct those reports.
A new generation of Ford Focus will be launched for 2019, and its underpinnings are expected to spawn a dedicated vehicle—possibly dubbed the "Model E"—to be sold as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an all-electric car.
(The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq offers a similar lineup of three powertrains.)
2017 Hyundai Ioniq, 2016 New York Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
That vehicle is likely to be assembled at a new plant Ford is building in Mexico, with its U.S. plants to be converted to more profitable SUV and truck production. It may not arrive until the 2020 model year.
Until then, 100-plus miles appears to be all we'll see from the small number of Focus Electric hatchbacks that Ford intends to sell in limited markets to meet its regulatory requirements.