Lots of automakers wish they could get a bite of Tesla’s business.
Ford first said more than a year ago that it would launch a long-range battery-electric vehicle, describing it as an SUV with 300 miles of range.
But the company is late to the game. Longer-range compact hatchbacks from established players like Chevrolet and Nissan are already in showrooms.
Though critics and auto-industry analysts may harp about Tesla's lack of profitability and slow production, all recall that when the Model S was launched, it quickly claimed the mantle as the bestselling large luxury sedan on the market.
If traditional automakers remain dubious about the company’s long-term survival, that hasn’t stopped them from taking notice—and from buying their own Teslas to tear down, analyze, and test.
Long-range luxury SUVs and sedans will arrive within the next two years from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and others.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace
2019 Audi e-tron prototype
Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept, 2016 Paris auto show
At a product briefing on its future lineup held Thursday at its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the company plans to move away from building electric cars that are efficient economy models.
Instead, it will try to dazzle buyers with the performance and smooth power of premium electric vehicles, he said.
“Being stuck in the past is really a death sentence for a company,” he said. “Innovation is moving at light speed, and you have to keep ahead of it,” if you want to maintain leadership.
CHECK OUT: Ford plans 300-mile electric SUV, hybrid F-150 and Mustang (Jan 2017)
To that end, Ford announced the long-range, 300-mile electric SUV more than a year ago—and, disappointingly, gave no other details on the vehicle yesterday.
(It did briefly show a design study that media attending the event agreed not to discuss.)
Ford executives said the future all-electric SUV would offer luxury levels of quietness along with sporty acceleration.
Ford's future product planning
The company says it plans to focus its SUV efforts on models that deliver impressive on-road performance and high-speed off-road capability (inspired by the company’s popular F150 Raptor.)
The company was exceedingly (excessively?) coy with details about a new model but did acknowledge that its new battery pack would cover 300 miles, and that it would “seat plenty of people.”
Our take? That sounds like a 300-mile hot-rod SUV, very much in the mold of the Tesla Model X.
Will it be a Ford, or could it instead be sold by the company's luxury brand instead? Lincoln's product line is being renovated, and targeted as much toward China as North America, so an electric car would fit well. Ford wouldn't say on the record.
Until the company is ready to say more, here’s hoping its designers don’t succumb to the complications of falcon-wing doors, wrap-over windshields, or non-folding pedestal rear seats.
— Eric C. Evarts
Ford provided airfare and transportation so Internet Brands Automotive could bring you this first-person news story.