Autoblog Misunderstood What Bill Ford Said About Batteries Used By Ford

by Jack Lifton on August 20, 2009

in Batteries, Hybrids & EVs, News Analysis, Rare Earths

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I recently read an Autoblog.com article entitled “Chevy Volt’s 230 mpg rating, ad campaign comes under fire from Bill Ford, AdAge“. It was poorly edited, poorly fact-checked and poorly written. William Clay Ford, could not have said what the article attributed to him in the context described.

The Ford Motor Company has a first-class battery development group directed by Ted Miller. That group developed its own version of the rare earth metal-based  nickel metal hydride (NiMH)  battery in-house, and then bid out the mass production of that battery to experienced manufacturers. The winners for the mass production contract were Sanyo and Panasonic, which are today the primary and alternate suppliers of this type of battery, for the four full-hybrid models offered by Ford. Ford has so-far sold 100,000 full hybrids utilizing NiMH batteries and the future looks very promising for its best-in-class Ford Fusion Hybrid.  This is a fantastic machine that gets 700 miles on a tank of gas, and can go nearly 50 miles an hour in electric mode only-albeit for just a few miles at that speed.

So, if “Bill” Ford was saying, as the article implies, that his company doesn’t “have any particular expertise in batteries,” [and that therefore] they’ll probably buy the batteries from established manufacturers for their own electrified cars, he must have been talking about lithium-ion batteries. However, this is a suspect interpretation also, because Miller’s team has a great deal of experience in lithium-ion batteries also. Miller himself came to Ford from France’s SAFT, a pioneering company in lithium-ion battery technology.

I don’t know what Bill Ford said in the interview quoted by Autoblog.com, but then again they don’t either.

Ford has vastly more experience of vehicle electrification than GM. The nonsense about the MPG rating of the Chevrolet Volt only reinforces the consequences of Ford’s superior expertise.

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