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Ford plans small electric car

2009-01-12 08:12

Detroit - Ford Motor Company said on Sunday it planned to introduce new electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles over the next four years, including a small electric car in North America in 2011.

By committing to offer a new line of rechargeable electric cars, Ford joins a growing number of automakers who have responded to calls to ramp up the introduction of battery-powered vehicles.

Ford, the number two US-based automaker, said it was working with auto parts supplier Magna International to bring a small battery-powered car to market in North America in 2011, using a lithium-ion battery, with a range of up to 100 miles (161 km) per charge.

Ford's product development chief, Derrick Kuzak, said pure electric car sales would be focused on urban markets with initial sales targeted at the 5 000 to 10 000 range.

In a presentation at the North American International Auto Show, Ford said its next generation of hybrid vehicles would include a plug-in version by 2012. The automaker also plans a battery electric commercial van in 2010.

"We are moving to more hybrids, whether they are regular hybrids or plug-in hybrids," Ford chief executive Alan Mulally told reporters on the sidelines of the auto show.

Long term, Mulally said that "as we continue to improve the electrical grids around the world ... having a complete battery electric vehicle is going to be a really important part of our strategy."

Environmental advocates see pure electric and "plug-in" - or rechargeable - hybrids as the most promising way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption.

GM seized headlines in 2007 by promising to build its all-electric Chevy Volt by 2010.

Chrysler, eager to prove it can stay competitive, said in September it also expected to have its first battery-powered vehicle in showrooms by 2010.

Ford was the first US automaker to develop its own hybrid, but had pulled back from promises earlier this decade for a heavy commitment to hybrid technology at a time when truck sales remained strong.

The automaker said the new electrification plan was the next step in the sustainability plan unveiled in 2007.

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