At the Green Fleet Forum we spoke with Ford Europe’s Fleet and Leasing Operations Manager Jimmy Van Den Daelen. We asked him to explain Ford’s strategy for “green” vehicles and how this historic car maker has been adapting to changing consumer behavior. Interview!
Why is Ford at the Green Fleet Forum?
We want to showcase Ford’s green range, including our highly efficient engines in terms of CO2 and fuel consumption based on the latest available technologies. First of all, gasoline and diesel engines: we’ve just won the 2012 Engine of the Year Prize for our 1-Litre 3-cylinder gasoline engine in our Ecoboost range. On the diesel side, the engines that power our diesel Focus range emit just 89g CO2. We’ve also succeeded in limiting CO2 emissions throughout our entire Ford range to between 89g and 139gm.
We’re also working on vehicle electrification. In contrast to other car makers, we’ve opted to use existing platforms such as the Focus and the C-Max (slated to be our future replacement for the Mondeo). By the end of the year we’ll have launched our fully-electric Focus, already available in the US, with a range of about 180 km. We will follow that in 2013 with two versions of the C-Max: full hybrid and plug-in hybrid. With the full hybrid, the combustion engine is the main workhorse with the electric motor as a backup and the battery topped up by the combustion engine. The plug-in hybrid has a much bigger and stronger battery as the main workhorse with the combustion engine as a backup.
How do you see the future of electric vehicles?
By 2020, all fully electric or hybrid vehicles will represent between 10 and 25% of the market. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids will have a bigger market share than fully electric vehicles.
So can we imagine a world with zero-pollution vehicles?
That’s a big unknown. We’re currently looking into Fuel Cell Technology to power hydrogen engines. The technology exists but it’s still too expensive to market. But it’s certainly the way forward to achieve zero CO2 emissions as hydrogen engines emit nothing but water. But that technology will take at least 10 to 20 years to become a real option as it needs substantial vehicle-technology development plus a thoroughly overhauled distribution network.
As a historic car maker, how is Ford managing to adapt to the need to offer more eco-friendly vehicles?
We’ve been aware of the importance of offering eco-friendly cars for several years, thanks to our President Bill Ford. He has had his sights set on a super-green, eco-friendly car from the outset and has long been aware of the importance of offering the market lower-CO2 emission cars. Ford has been working on green technology for a long time, and it’s a cultural awareness that permeates the entire company. I say cultural because it’s not just to offer “green” products but to convert its overall manufacturing process to a “green” model. We’re overhauling our production lines to achieve substantial energy, electricity and water savings, we’re achieving savings in vehicle transport, opting for waterways over roads… We’re marshalling all corporate functions and operations to reduce CO2 emissions.