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Ford Photo: Supplied
Ford Photo: Supplied
 
 

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Andrew Maclean | Aug, 22 2018 | 0 Comments

Ford will continue to take a cautious approach to the introduction of electric vehicles in Australia.

That is despite the blue oval's new local boss, Kay Hart, being promoted to the President post directly from Ford's future-focused Team Edison division which is working to rapidly create new mobility solutions for Ford across the globe.

Speaking to Australian media for the first time this week at the launch of the updated 2019 Everest SUV, Hart told Drive there are no plans to fast forward the company's future electric vehicle plans and will wait for the local market to mature and build confidence in battery-powered cars.

"It comes down to market readiness for those kinds of applications, whether it is hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery electric," the Kiwi (pictured below) said.

"Ford obviously has a great variety of vehicles and powertrains, and I think it will depend on when the infrastructure is in place and customers have the confidence.

"I think we at Ford have placed a lot of bets on electrification in the future, and I would say that when you see the market is ready then Ford will play a significant role in that here."

Ford is spending billions of dollars in research and development of electric vehicles and autonomous technology and is considered one of the pioneers in advanced mobility on a global scale.

It is expected to reveal its first dedicated electric car next year ahead of its market introduction in Europe and the United States in 2020. The top-secret vehicle is likely to be a compact SUV similar in size to a Focus hatchback, and have the ability to travel up to 500km between recharges.

Hart would not be drawn on when Ford's electric vehicle would likely be available locally, but admitted that affordability will be a determining factor in its appeal.

"Affordability is a key part of the strategy," she said

"Battery electric vehicles will always command a premium because of the cost of the technology, but then there is the payback in running costs to the consumer.

"It will all come eventually, but when... I don't know just yet."

Until then, Hart says her priority is to continue to rebuild Ford's position in Australia following the closure of local manufacturing and counteract the decline of passenger car sales through an expanded line-up of SUVs that starts with the updated Everest and will include the all-new Endura and revised Escape later this year.

"I’d say [the biggest opportunities are] the continued focus on what the team has been working on with all the great new products we’re bringing into the market and with the after sales packages we’ve been working on recently," she said.

"For me, it’s the continued focus on what customers are looking for, listening to them and analysing the market and its changes and evaluate where new opportunities lie."

One of those 'new opportunities' is the highly probable introduction of the the Focus Active - a high-riding crossover version of the hatchback - in 2019. It's a model Hart said is "right" for Australia without officially confirming its arrival.

"The market here in Australia is right for it, in terms of the growth of the SUV segment and the shift from passenger cars to SUVs. I think it is clearly something we’re looking at building on in the future," she added.

 
Filed under electric vehicles ford
 
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