Detroit Auto Show focuses on trucks, but Ford brings big EV news

Another Detroit Auto show has come and gone.  Although we know that Ford and GM have dozens of electrified vehicles in development, this year’s Auto Show focused mainly on trucks. There were certainly some exciting developments there, including new hybrid and advanced engine options for America’s most popular trucks, but there was also a big announcement from Ford about doubling down on its EV goals.

Fortunately, most of the new truck reveals included new technology that promises to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.  For starters, Chevy introduced a lighter and more efficient Silverado with a new dynamic engine management system expected to be up to 25% more efficient.  

FCA also announced a new Dodge Ram that features eTorque electric assist, a hybrid design that will give the truck an extra torque boost with an electric battery.

This gives us a peek into what might be possible with Ford’s coming hybrid F-150, and its an interesting development, considering FCA’s resistance to electrification generally. Displaying the benefits of electrification to their customers will certainly raise expectations of further improvements.

The biggest EV news to arise from the show, though, was undoubtedly Ford’s announcement that the company plans to significantly step up its investment in EV development. Ford committed to investing $11 billion over the next several years to bring 40 hybrid and electric vehicles to market by 2022, with 16 of those vehicles to be fully electric.  While Ford has been lagging GM, who has been competing head on with cross-country rival Tesla, Ford’s announcement represents a huge effort to catch up, and perhaps even get ahead. As reported by Reuters, Ford’s original plan was to invest just $4.5 billion by 2020, so this is a significant step up.

As we’ve reported before, Ford’s new chief of autonomous and electric vehicles, Sherif Marakby, has assembled a new “Team Edison” to take on this challenge. He is now bringing together people from across the company--in technology, product development, marketing and advanced manufacturing--into a new space in Detroit’s up and coming Corktown neighborhood.  As a bit of a tease, Ford showed a video at its Auto Show press reveal that suggested how Team Edison will be inspiring an all-electric performance SUV coming in 2020.

It’s exciting to imagine a future where Ford is selling a fully electric F-150, as Ford also suggests that it plans to offer EV versions of its most iconic vehicles. An EV version of the country’s most popular truck, or maybe a fully electric Mustang, could do a lot to “normalize” EVs and give more consumers the opportunity to experience the benefits of electrification.  We’ll be continuing to follow their progress, and hoping that their big goals and plans result in big success.  

In other news this month, BP and Shell invest in EV fast-charging stations, EV sales in California provide lessons for Michigan, a new study shows that EVs cost less to maintain than gas cars in every state, and the market looks good for GM’s autonomous Chevy Bolt.