IBJNews

Ford sees EV potential in Indianapolis

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Roughly two-thirds of area motorists are interested in buying a hybrid or electric vehicle—but gas would have to hit $5 to $6 a gallon to actually spur them into buying one, according to a survey of Indianapolis motorists that Ford Motor Co. released Tuesday.

It may be one reason Ford is avoiding the purpose-built-hybrid and plug-in car approach competitors such as Nissan, with its Leaf, and General Motors, with its Volt, have taken.

Ford’s hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles being introduced in the months ahead will be versions of its existing gasoline vehicles, said Tom McCarthy, Ford Powertrain chief engineer.

electric car focus 15colFord's plug-in Focus uses essentially the same model style as its gas-powered version. (IBJ Photo)

McCarthy, and a smattering of local Ford dealers, were on hand Tuesday morning at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown for a seminar co-sponsored by the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition, which promotes alternative fuels.

Also on hand was a semitrailer full of Ford hybrid and electric cars, including a plug-in Ford Focus that went on sale this month for delivery in 2012. The lithium-ion battery powered car has a maximum range of 100 miles. Ford also says the car will have a faster-charging time than the Leaf.

McCarthy said using existing vehicles provides cost advantages, although he declined to talk about sticker prices. Auto industry experts say Ford would do well to undercut the plug-in electric Nissan Leaf, which starts at $35,200, if you can find one.

The federal government has been offering a tax credit of $7,500 on such vehicles, to effectively reduce their price.

By the end of 2012, Ford plans to have five new electrified vehicles on the market. Besides the electric Focus, and an electric version of its Transit Connect van, Ford plans to introduce its electric C-Max crossover, a gasoline-electric hybrid C-Max and a yet-to-be identified “next generation” hybrid.

The electric Focus that Ford brought to Indianapolis didn’t look much different than a conventional model except for badges on the front doors and trunk lid that declared its electric power.

That contrasts to the Leaf, the Volt and the Toyota Prius, which by themselves have become status symbols in the green crowd.  McCarthy said he doesn’t think the lack of differentiation will hurt Ford. Ultimately, “you really want to make it affordable for customers” to buy, he said.

“We’ve judged Indianapolis as one of the top 25 EV markets,” added McCarthy, citing the region's efforts in rolling out electric-vehicle charging stations.

electric car van 15colFord already has introduced an electric version of its Transit Connect van. (IBJ Photo)

Ford hopes to boost consumer acceptance through a partnership with retailer Best Buy, where consumers will be able to purchase an at-home EV charging station for about $1,500. Under the arrangement, Best Buy will arrange for installation at the customer’s home.

Ford isn’t putting all its long-term fuel-conservation plans into electrification. McCarthy noted how the automaker has rolled out more efficient versions of its gasoline engines. Ford also is offering compressed natural gas, or CNG, versions of its vans and pickups.

Greater Indiana Clean Cities has been working with several commercial fleets in the state, which have converted to fuels ranging from propane to CNG.  Monarch Beverage, for example, recently added new CNG units to its fleet.

“The time is right, I think, with fuel prices and the technology that is available, [yet] there is no silver bullet” that fits all applications, said Kellie Walsh, executive director of Clean Cities.

Among other findings of Ford’s survey:

— Fuel efficiency is the most important influencing factor in vehicle purchasing decisions.

— Roughly 80 percent of respondents surveyed are satisfied with their current fuel economy, but only 27 percent are “very satisfied.”

— While 72 percent of motorists said an electric vehicle would fit their needs, 54 percent are not comfortable having a car with limited driving range as their primary means of transportation.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

ADVERTISEMENT