Ford commits $29 billion to electric and autonomous vehicle development

Meanwhile, it has slashed vehicle production because of a chip shortage. 

By S. Dent

Ford will invest $29 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, more than double the $11.5 billion it promised through 2022 less than a year ago, the automaker announced. Of that, it will spend $7 billion on self-driving tech and $22 billion on EVs, including the $7 billion it has already paid over the last five years. 

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Ford announces launch of largest electric vehicle charging network in the US

New York (CNN Business)Ford doesn’t currently offer any electric vehicles, but it announced Thursday that, once it does, it will offer the largest North American network of electric vehicle chargers of any automaker — including Tesla.

Unlike Tesla, though, Ford didn’t build this charging network on its own. Working with EV charging companies Greenlots and Electrify America, Ford has created what it calls the FordPass Charging Network. When needed, users will be directed to one of the network’s chargers using an app or in the vehicle’s central touch screen.

Next year, Ford will begin selling an electric crossover SUV with styling based on the Ford Mustang. It’s the first vehicle Ford has ever offered that was designed, from the outset, as an electric vehicle. That vehicle has not been unveiled yet. An electric version of the Ford F-150 pickup is also being developed.

The FordPass network will include more than 12,000 charging stations with a total of 35,000 plugs in the United States and some parts of Canada. Tesla has 4,375 public charging stations with about 15,000 plugs in the United States, according to the Department of Energy.

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Ford announces launch of largest electric vehicle charging network in the US

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Demand for electric cars has grown slowly. But the tsunami is coming

 New York (CNN Business)Ford doesn’t currently offer any electric vehicles, but it announced Thursday that, once it does, it will offer the largest North American network of electric vehicle chargers of any automaker — including Tesla.

Unlike Tesla, though, Ford didn’t build this charging network on its own. Working with EV charging companies Greenlots and Electrify America, Ford has created what it calls the FordPass Charging Network. When needed, users will be directed to one of the network’s chargers using an app or in the vehicle’s central touch screen.

Next year, Ford will begin selling an electric crossover SUV with styling based on the Ford Mustang. It’s the first vehicle Ford has ever offered that was designed, from the outset, as an electric vehicle. That vehicle has not been unveiled yet. An electric version of the Ford F-150 pickup is also being developed.

The FordPass network will include more than 12,000 charging stations with a total of 35,000 plugs in the United States and some parts of Canada. Tesla has 4,375 public charging stations with about 15,000 plugs in the United States, according to the Department of Energy.

Continue reading… “Ford announces launch of largest electric vehicle charging network in the US”

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Ford patents drone that pops out of a car’s trunk

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IMAGE VIA U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE/FORD

 The spare tire stashed in your car’s trunk for emergencies might soon be joined by a drone.

On Thursday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s office published a patent application submitted by Ford Motor Company subsidiary Ford Global Technologies. It seems the American automaker is developing a system that would allow drivers to deploy and control a drone stored in their car’s trunk.

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Self-driving cars will only last four years, Ford says

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Self-driving cars will only last four years because they will be used so much, a Ford executive has predicted.

John Rich, operations chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, dismissed concerns that demand for cars would wane in the future.

“The thing that worries me least in this world is decreasing demand for cars. We will exhaust and crush a car every four years in this business,” he told The Telegraph.

The Detroit-headquartered car maker plans to establish an autonomous fleet which will be used as a service by other companies, to be used as delivery vehicles or to transport employees.

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Ford designers are dropping their pencils and reaching for VR goggles instead

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Ford Gravity Sketch

Ford outlined how it’s increasingly using virtual reality (VR) technology to eliminate the distance between its design studios in North America, in Asia, and in Europe. The Co-Creation tool the firm created jointly with Gravity Sketch lets engineers work on the same project even if they’re located thousands of miles apart. VR is part of the company’s effort to streamline its design and development processes, and it illustrates an ongoing trend in the automotive industry.

Instead of drawing on a piece of paper, or sketching using CAD software, Ford designers are beginning to use VR headsets and controllers to bring their ideas to life. Significantly, the co-creation tool lets Ford skip the 2D stage of design when it wants to save time, and go straight to 3D. Designers can use the technology to transfer virtual ideas. For example, if a designer prefers an upcoming car (like the born-again Bronco) with a more upright grille, he or she can send a VR-wearing colleague a file containing a sample design.

 

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Billion-dollar bets on electric vehicles await payoff

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If carmakers have any hope of making money on electric vehicles, they’ll need to re-think how they design and sell them, a new McKinsey study suggests.

Why it matters: Automakers will pour $255 billion into EVs by 2023 but are resigned to losing money on them for the foreseeable future — an expected outcome of a market dictated by regulators and lawmakers, rather than consumers. But because they’re key to future self-driving cars, they’ll keep investing in them.

The big picture: Right now, electric vehicles are an expensive black hole for carmakers.

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Ford CEO says the company ‘overestimated’ self-driving cars

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Ford thinks there will be limits on what first self-driving cars can do.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett scaled back hopes about the company’s plans for self-driving cars this week, admitting that the first vehicles will have limits. “We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” said Hackett, who once headed the company’s autonomous vehicle division, at a Detroit Economic Club event on Tuesday. While Ford still plans on launching its self-driving car fleet in 2021, Hackett added that “its applications will be narrow, what we call geo-fenced, because the problem is so complex.”

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Ford’s noise-cancelling doghouse keeps pups calm during fireworks

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Rover can stay relaxed during the holidays.

Many dogs and other pets are terrified of fireworks, and for good reason — their more sensitive hearing makes that pleasant popping turn into a cacophony of sounds. Ford, however, might provide some relief. The company (which is no stranger to high-tech beds) has built a doghouse that uses noise cancelling to minimize canine agony during fireworks shows. Like the technology in some headphones and Ford’s own Edge SUV, the kennel detects explosions with microphones and counteracts them by pumping out frequencies that mitigate the sounds or eliminate them altogether. The body includes soundproofing cork panels, anti-vibration risers and even soundproofed ventilation, while an automatic door helps your pooch quickly take shelter.

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The worker in the robot suit: New industrial orders reignite exoskeleton interest

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It’s been a technology without a clear customer for about a decade, but wearable robotic suits are finally finding a market in legacy manufacturing and construction.

Robotic exoskeletons are back in the news after Ford ordered 75 robotic suits from Ekso Bionics, as reported by my colleague.

The relatively small number of orders belies the significance of this moment for a fantastically advanced set of technologies that have been searching for a viable market for over a decade now. Wearable robots that augment human strength have attracted big investment money, but the use case has been harder to pinpoint.

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Exoskeletons debut at Ford factories

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Staff will now be augmented by exoskeletons in Ford factories across the world.

Following successful trials, Ford will now offer employees the use of exoskeletons to reduce the strain of factory work.

Despite the emergence of Industry 4.0, smart factories, sensors, and data analytics, much of the heavy-duty operations of today’s industrial and manufacturing still rely heavily on human input.

Over time, the physical demand of such work can cause injury, muscle stress, and accidents.

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Top 7 plug-in cars listed by price per mile of electric range

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Range is all the rage when it comes to electric cars, but often range comes at a cost.

So, which plug-in cars offer the most miles of electric range for your hard-earned buck? For starters, no plug-in hybrid even came close to making the cut. The Chevy Volt was the front-runner among PHEVs at $626 per electric mile of range, but as you’ll see below, that’s not even in the same ballpark as the Top 7 listed.

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