Ford says it will pour an additional $4.5 billion into electrified vehicles over the next five years, adding 13 new such models to its product portfolio by 2020.
The move will increase the penetration of electrified vehicles to 40% of Ford’s nameplates globally, the automaker says.
Included in the plans is a next-generation Focus Electric featuring DC fast-charging capability that will recharge the battery to 80% of capacity, good for another 100 miles (162 km) of range, Ford says.
Production of the new Focus Electric, to be sold in North America and Europe, will begin late next year. The car will include a special customizable instrument cluster displaying such things as EV power usage and a “Brake Coach” that helps drivers maximize the amount of energy captured during braking.
The automaker also plans an increased emphasis on user experience (UX) in future vehicle design.
“The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle, but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” says Raj Nair, executive vice president-Product Development. “By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward.”
To do that, Ford will double its global research led by ReD, a social science-based consultancy.
“This new way of working brings together marketing, research, engineering and design in a new way to create meaningful user experiences, rather than individually developing technologies and features that need to be integrated into a final product,” Nair says. “We are using new insights from anthropologists, sociologists, economists, journalists and designers, along with traditional business techniques, to reimagine our product-development process, create new experiences and make life better for millions of people.”
During the past three years, the Ford-ReD team has put in more than 4,000 hours with thousands of vehicle users in more than 25 cities worldwide, taking 80,000 photos, nearly 3,000 hours of video and more than 8,000 pages of field notes, feeding countless insights to improve the product-creation process.
“As both an auto and a mobility company, we at Ford are going further than just designing the product to move people from point A to point B,” Nair says. “We are considering the way customers interact with our vehicles as a unified experience, looking for ways to excite and delight customers and make their lives better.”