Over the past weekend the Detroit Free Press ran an article about electric vehicles. The article focused on the Detroit 3 and their varying approaches to the alternative propulsion category. Surprisingly, the Free Press gives the nod to Ford as the only company out of the three to have the right focus for the future.
As the Free Press reports, GM has concentrated efforts on the Chevy Volt followed by the Cadillac Converj. Chrysler has little to offer in alternative propulsion aside from some test fleet plug-ins and a limited amount of hybrid Ram's, while Ford has focused on the Focus EV and Transit Connect EV.
Why is Ford right? According to the report, GM's effort's on costly vehicles will have little overall effect as the anticipated sales volumes will be low for years to come. Their biggest gripe is with the expensive Cadillac. As Free Press writer Bradley Berman states, "It's a great strategy for drawing attention to Cadillac. But if the goal of the hybrid and electric car movement is to offer low or zero emission transportation to sustainable personal vehicles, the Cadillac Converj is as wrong as the spelling of its name."
According to Berman, the key to success for EVs is to offer affordable transportation to a mass market. Offering reasonably priced products that millions can afford to buy will expand the EV market share quickly. Once you have buyers in EVs, vehicles such as an expensive Cadillac EREV could be produced. However, expensive, luxury vehicles should not be the first step into EVs.
The article goes on to state that Ford has made wise choices that will continue to keep them on top. With a moderately priced Focus EV that has already garnered widespread appeal and a small, affordable Transit Connect EV, the company will introduce base level vehicles that will entice buyers to try EVs for the first time.
As Berman said, "Wouldn't it be cool if there were a Detroit auto company that saw the value of electric vehicles and was modestly going about producing common sense, affordable electric cars on existing global platforms? No super fanfare, no rumors of slick, expensive future EVs that may or may not come. No Hail Mary passes. That's what Ford is doing, again proving that it's moving in the right direction- not only for consumer value and profitability, but for the future of Detroit the U.S. economy and Planet Earth."
Source: Detroit Free Press Print Edition ( Bradley Berman is editor of Hybridcars.com)