Ford is tooting its electric horn for good reason: the Detroit automaker is pegging its U.S. electrified vehicle market share at 16 percent, up 12 share points from the previous year and beating out bitter rival Toyota. To capitalize, Ford says it plans to hire more engineers and expand its research labs.
Ford reported electrified vehicle sales of 46,197 units through June, which is more than 400 percent higher than the same period a year ago. Ford C-MAX Hybrid and Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid are leading the way as the C-MAX is drawing new buyers in coastal markets and in Florida and Texas. Ford had the largest retail share increase in California of any brand so far this year and reports 64 percent of C-MAX Hybrid buyers came from non-Ford brands. To rub it in for good measure, Ford claims that the vehicle most traded in for a Ford C-MAX is … Toyota Prius. Ford’s Lincoln MKZ brand is also proving to be popular as the company has doubled the production mix of MKZ Hybrids to 40 percent of MKZ production.
“Strong consumer acceptance of Ford hybrids shows that our plan to lead in fuel economy across our lineup is working,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s Global Product Development group vice president.“Our commitment to deliver great fuel economy in our cars, utilities and trucks is a key reason we are seeing strong growth in coastal markets and with import buyers.”
As its electrified vehicle market share grows, Ford is implementing on-road fuel economy performance of 2013-model hybrid vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. Starting in August, the company will make calibration updates in the C-MAX Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Other upgrades include boosting maximum pure electric speed to 85 mph from 62 mph and allowing increased use of electric-only mode on the highway; optimizing the use of Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under more driving and temperature conditions including cold weather, during air conditioner use and when the engine coolant temperature is higher; and shortening engine warm-up time by up to 50 percent to enable electric-only driving and engine.
Ford is nearly doubling its electrification engineering team to 500 salaried employees and investing an additional $50 million in electrified product development and testing centers in Dearborn, Michigan. The company says it will double electrification battery-testing capabilities by the end of the year, to a total of 160 individual battery-test cells.
Photo Credit: Ford