CNN reports today that Ford is preparing to sell an electric car developed almost entirely by an outside supplier. While that may cut down on bragging rights – General Motors created the Chevy Volt in-house – Ford says it also cut down on costs and risk.
The electric Ford Focus, due out in early 2011, is largely the product of Canada-based auto parts and assembly supplier Magna International (MGA). Magna developed the car mostly on its own, building it inside a Ford Focus body for demonstration purposes.
Unlike the Volt, Ford’s electric Focus will not be a “range extended car.” In other words, it won’t have an on-board gasoline-powered generator to pump out more electricity for longer drives.
The Focus will not burn gasoline and will go about 100 miles on a charge. Before hitting the road again, drivers will have to wait to recharge.
Meanwhile, the Volt will only go 40 miles before needing to burn gasoline – still farther than most people drive in a typical day, GM says – but it will have a 300 mile total range.
In August, 2008, Magna presented its electric car to Ford engineers and executives.
“We took a look at that execution and said, ‘Hey, together we can really make this a proposition,” said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s Director of Sustainable Mobility.
Five months later, in January, 2009, Ford (F, Fortune 500) announced its intention to produce the car at the Detroit Auto Show.
Ford could have developed an electric car on their own, but Magna’s work allowed the carmaker to bypass a lot of expensive engineering and development work, Pochiluk said.
The electric Focus will go on sale in early 2011 and it will be based on the next-generation Ford Focus small car. By then, it should be Ford’s second electric vehicle. The first will be a small electric work van that’s scheduled to go on sale next year. Ford also partnered with an outside supplier, Britain’s Smith Electric vehicles, to make the van.