Last month, Automotive News had the chance to catch up with Ford’s Electrification Programs Director, Kevin Layden, to ask him about the automaker’s future plans in the realm of hybridized and battery electric vehicles. Crucial to Ford’s plans in this realm is a $4.5 billion sum, announced in December of 2015, which will be poured into research and development, as well as the introduction of 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020.
Perhaps the most interesting comment from Mr. Layden came in response to a question about cheap gasoline, and whether it detracts at all from Ford’s case to invest so heavily in electrified vehicle technology. “It’s easy to remain enthusiastic [about electrification],” said Layden. “You have to remember, hybrids came on the scene with fuel at $1 a gallon in the United States.”
He continued: “We’ve been driving the cost of the system down and driving the mpg up… With [plug-in hybrid electric vehicles], we’re selling better economics as well as features. People are buying because they can go 10 weeks without going to the gas station… The features, the reliability, the excellent driving experience and the economics are continuing to build.”
For this reason, the Ford Electrification Programs Director isn’t concerned about the recent flocking of consumers back to big, heavy SUVs. In fact, the Mr. Layden reiterated that a full-size truck or SUV hybrid is on the way from Ford, before citing the Ford Escape Hybrid as an example of how electrification can be successfully employed on the sort of utility vehicles that consumers want.
For the full interview, head on over to Automotive News.