Ford EcoBoost Demand Booms as Overall EV Sales Soften
May 2, 2012 11:24 AM
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Consumers choose fuel efficient normal vehicles over EVs and hybrids
Despite the fact that gas prices are at record levels in many parts of the country, the sales of electric vehicles are still falling. Many consumers are staying away from electric vehicles due to the relatively high cost of entry and range anxiety (in the case of the Nissan Leaf).
Two of the most popular electric vehicles in the country are the
and the Nissan Leaf. The Volt isn't a traditional electric vehicle; rather it's an extended range hybrid that runs on battery power and features a generator to recharge the battery for extended driving. GM says that in the month of April 2012 1,462 Volts were sold, which represents 200% increase from April of 2011 when 493 were sold.
April was the second best month for retail sales of Volt cars since it launched in 2010. Interestingly, the good month for Volt sales comes not long after
GM suspended production
of the car due to soft demand.
Chevrolet Volt sales are up.
While sales of the Volt were up, the Nissan Leaf saw sales fall 35% with only 370 units sold. Nissan hopes to sell 20,000 Leaf EVs this year, and will have to sell over 2200 monthly to meet that goal.
While electric vehicle sales are down, Ford has a booming business with its fuel-efficient
. Ford has announced that it has started a third shift at the Cleveland plant that builds EcoBoost engines.
The addition of a third shift to the engine building plant will add 250 jobs. However, most of those positions will be filled by employees that are transferring from a different Cleveland engine plant that will be placed on idle later this week.
The 2013 Ford Fusion will offer two EcoBoost four-cylinder engine options.
"Our engine plant in Cleveland is the first and only facility in North America to produce EcoBoost engines, and we are tripling production capacity to meet customers' growing needs for fuel-efficient engines," said Ford Americas President Mark Fields during a celebration with employees at the plant Tuesday. "EcoBoost engines are a key part of our plan to give customers the power of choice — from EcoBoost-powered vehicles and hybrids, to plug-in hybrids and full electrics."
Ford's EcoBoost engine has found its way the under the hood of everything from
small economy vehicles
. EcoBoost engines use a smaller displacement engine with turbochargers for increased power and fuel efficiency.
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There is a lot going on that was not mentioned in the article
5/3/2012 11:10:47 AM
Most of the article was about how poorly EVs are selling, but if you start digging, Ford has a LOT of interesting plans going forward that involve EcoBoost. For those who don't know, EcoBoost is really just Turbo that has been tuned with economy being one of the goals.
Now, for most people, the idea of turbo is more horsepower, so you aim for more horsepower from it for a "fun" experience. Ford is going the other way, replace larger conventional engines with smaller engines that get the EcoBoost approach, so you end up with the same amount of horsepower in a smaller engine, and this results in better fuel economy. For the Fiesta, going from a 4 cylinder engine that delivers 120ish horsepower to a 3 cylinder EcoBoost engine that delivers around the same horsepower will result in better fuel economy. For the Focus, going from a 2.0L at 160 horsepower(2012 model year) would add a 1.6L EcoBoost engine that can hit close to 180 horsepower(or 160, depending on how it is tuned). For small trucks and SUVs, going EcoBoost means you can get a fairly powerful 6 cylinder engine while delivering the power of a v8.
That is the direction Ford is going in with EcoBoost, the same or better horsepower that gives you better fuel economy. The idea that Ford is reserving this for only the highest trims is really more about the idea of scaling up demand and the ability to get production up for the EcoBoost engines. If they make EcoBoost available across the entire product range before they have the production for the engines scaled up, it will hurt, and boosting production too soon before availability will also hurt. So, they are working to increase production capacity, but not before there is enough demand to justify it.
Going off on a bit of a tangent(which many people did already), the Fusion gets a fairly significant overhaul for the 2013 model year, so all these numbers for the Fusion Hybrid that have been talked about is already close to going out the window. The Focus right now(2012 model year) has a number of features that just were not in the Fusion, and that is being addressed in the 2013 Fusion. It SHOULD be very interesting to see how much of an improvement it will end up being, but the regular Focus at this point is worlds better than the older generations(2011 model year and earlier).
So, EcoBoost is a positive sign for things going forward, and it will be interesting how GM responds.
"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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