Ford to make major electric vehicle play?

Ford has traditionally not been considered a major player in the electric vehicle market, or at least an industry leader like GM and Tesla. However, the company has ambitious plans to change that perception according to USA Today.

The automaker is betting on a $4.5 billion investment and plans to build 13 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles by 2020 to elevate its status in the market.

 electric auto

Ford has a ways to go, as Ford’s Energi plug-ins have seen few updates lately and its Focus Electric was only recently improved to hit a 100-mile range.

But a breakthrough for Ford may come in the way of new battery development. One of the most prohibiting factors for EV’s is high battery costs, which have been lowered consistently, but by small amounts.

In partnership with the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan, Ford has invested $2.1 million in a battery lab at the Energy Institute on the UM campus. Teams of researchers can use the lab to work on projects involving battery chemistry and construction to lower costs in small ways, but they’re also working on a big breakthrough in alternative chemical formulations, such as lithium-silicon.

As evidenced by its goal of drastically increasing the number of EV options in its lineup, Ford appears to recognize the importance of being a player in the EV market, while also working on new battery improvements. At the end of the day, how this strategy pays off will come down to what kind of vehicles the company can get to market, especially with GM and Tesla’s strong new showings in the affordable end of the market.