American OEM EV/HV launch plans

GM adopts eAssist in three mid-sized models; Ford expands EV/HV/PHV offerings

2012/10/22

Summary

 Reported below is a summary of development and launch plans of EV (Electric vehicle), HV (Hybrid electric vehicle) and PHV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) among the Detroit Three and emerging automakers in the United States.

 GM intends to offer a broad range of electrified vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt PHV, Chevrolet Spark EV, and the eAssist mild HV systems, to meet the increasingly strict fuel efficiency standards in the US market. GM reportedly is adopting a four-mode HV system, evolving from the present two-mode HV, in the next models of full-size pickups and SUVs.

 Ford has launched HV versions of the Escape, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ using Toyota's technologies. As a result, Ford has produced the largest number of HVs among the American automakers. Ford will launch six new EV/HV models (Focus EV, C-Max HV, C-Max Energi PHV, new Fusion HV, Fusion Energi PHV, and Lincoln MKZ HV) fitted with lithium-ion batteries from the fall of 2012 to the beginning of 2013.

 Ford has announced plans to gather a thousand engineers in the Advanced Electrification Center located in Dearborn, Michigan, US, intending to achieve 25% reduction of its electrified vehicle development lead time, and to triple production capacity for its electrified vehicles by 2013.

 Chrysler plans to launch the Fiat 500 EV and make HV versions available with the Chrysler 300 and minivans in 2013. The company is also developing the Ram 1500- and minivan-based PHVs and minivans that will be fitted with a hydraulic hybrid system.


 The stage of shakeout seems to have come for emerging EV manufacturers. The sales of EVs are limited because their cruising range is restricted and charging the battery is not as easy as filling up the gas tank. Among the energy-related companies which received financing from the DOE (the US Department of Energy), bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Act was filed for by Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer, in September 2011 and Ener1, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer, in January 2012. Ener1 had invested 35.4 million dollars in and been supplying lithium-ion batteries to Think Global which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2011, forcing Ener1 into bankruptcy as well. The Obama administration is facing criticism to its financial aid plans for energy industries and new aid programs are said to be shelved until the presidential election is over. As a result, many emerging manufacturers are struggling with financing and Bright Automotive and Aptera Motors have been forced out from the market.


Ford Fusion Energi PHV
Ford Fusion Energi PHV slated for US launch
in the beginning of 2013, projected to deliver
EPA-certified 100+ MPG-e

Model S
Chassis (diagonally front view) of the second model,
Model S, released for sale by Tesla Motors in June 2012

 Despite these difficult situations, Tesla Motors is doing fairly well while Coda Automotive has started delivering its first Sedan model and announced plans to develop the second model jointly with Great Wall Motors in China.


Related reports:
HV/EV launch plans by Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and Daihatsu (posted in September 2012)
EV/HV launch plans by Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki (posted in October 2012)