Posted 12/14/15 in News by Steve
Ford announced the improved 2017 Focus Electric will feature a complete redesign with 100-mile range and DC fast-charging capabilities.The additional range will put the Focus in direct competition with the new longer-range Nissan Leaf, the current mainstream battery electric sales leader.
The new Focus Electric, which is scheduled to start production in late 2016, will also provide North American and European customers with several other new technologies. The SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD Instrument Cluster will offer customizable displays that can help the driver see real-time EV power usage to help maximize vehicle efficiency. Brake Coach is designed to help drivers use smooth braking to maximize the energy captured through regenerative braking.
Ford showed their intentions to further expand their electric vehicle portfolio by committing $4.5 billion over the next 5 years. The company promised to deliver 13 new EVs by 2020, which would mean more than 40 percent of the brand's models will be available with an electric drivetrain.
In addition to new vehicles, the company plans to redefine how future vehicles are created, moving from a features-based product development to a customer-experience-led process. The new product development process is designed to focus on the customer experience and not just the vehicle.
Along with traditional market research, Ford is investing in social science-based research. By observing how consumers interact with their vehicles the company hopes to bring together marketing, research, engineering and design in ways to create meaningful user experiences, rather than individually developing technologies and features that need to be integrated into a final product. It's a holistic approach that uses insights from anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists and designers, along with traditional business techniques, to reimagine the product development process.
In 2016, Ford is doubling the number of projects that use this ethnographic research model. The team responsible for this new process has already spent months exploring topics such as the future of luxury transport, how people form relationships with their cars, and the role of trucks in the American heartland. As part of the process, designers will not only provide product sketches, but they will also be providing illustrations that visualize the driving and owning experience each vehicle is meant to deliver.
Ford's announcement was regarded as significant by industry observers. The company hasn't introduced a new electric vehicle since 2013. Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet and BMW have all made significant investments in electric drivetrain technologies and have been effective at luring mainstream consumers to their showrooms. With Tesla and Chevrolet both preparing 200-mile sub $30,000 all electric cars for the very near future, this investment should keep Ford vehicles in the mind of potential EV consumers.