One of the many things I learned in life is that people lose their dreams and never see them fulfilled just because they give up. So is the case with Ford, it seems, who is apparently a little circumspect at which technology to follow… at least for a while.
Ford CEO William “Bill” Ford said a couple of days ago, at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics Conference in Santa Barbara that “We’ve made a big bet on electric – but the pace at which that develops, I think anyone who can tell you that is lying.”
In an excessively pessimistic approach, he also mentioned that “Prior to the Model T, a third of all vehicles in this country were electric – this isn’t a new technology. The reason it died away was the ubiquity of charging. Today, we have the same issue.”
Well, I don’t know how a man having the authority, respect and stature such as Ford can compare current times with what happened a hundred years ago. Faster charging batteries develop every month, and you only need to see some of the improvements to make an idea of how powerful the battery research is these days and how big the economic interests of all of the companies involved are.
“We still don’t know what the winning technology is going to be – We’re continuing to invest in hydrogen, we’re continuing to invest in biofuels.”
At least this isn’t telling us that Ford, the company, is giving up studying how to build greener vehicles. I also think hydrogen is the true way to go and that it’ll have the final say in the entire EV world. And that only means Ford is not giving up the EV dream, but only batteries, for the moment. It’s ok, we need people focused on hydrogen and fuel cells.
Still, batteries are better than anything that burns for the moment, and without developing them in the near future we might just end up giving up on electric vehicles.
Not promoting people the clean electric car technology just because we can’t use hydrogen for the moment as we would want could be the biggest mistake that could eventually lead the world into its biggest energy crisis ever.
Update: it looks like things aren’t so pessimistic after all. A Ford company representative contacted me on the article above and stated that Ford Motor Company is very much committed to electric vehicles – battery-powered, traditional hybrids and plug in hybrids and that at the ECO:nomics conference, she said that Bill Ford indicated that Ford was continuing to work on all the technologies in parallel because it isn’t clear yet which will be the leading technology that customer embrace.
So here’s a video showing Ford’s original conversation with WSJ’s Jeff Ball. Now, his concept of changing entire car platforms worldwide, of “electrifying” everything in a circumspect manner really does make sense. But so does Nissan’s approach make sense, because “no one can whistle a symphony.” (H. E. Luccock)
I tend to think that, as a business model, Ford’s is better, but from the consumer’s point of view, he’ll always know and differentiate himself from the others when buying a Leaf, for example, and while much many will buy a Ford Focus electric, their car will still be a Focus… That’s why Toyota dedicated the Prius brand to only one car, built in a certain hybrid manner… now their car is the first successful hybrid on the market. Get it? It’s a matter of image, but that’s only one side of the coin.
Ford doesn’t really know right now which is the right option to follow, although the main idea behind their approach is to electrify. And that’s also good, whichever side of the coin you choose. Ford could use a personal brand of electric/hybrid vehicles, not just an impersonation of older ones… just to stand out from the crowd.