Ford is gearing up to build its Model E at a new factory in Mexico, according to reports. Ford claimed the Model E name back in 2013, which caused Tesla’s Elon Musk a great deal of emotional distress. Musk has long thought the entire Tesla model line up would consist of cars named S, E, X, and Y. He was mightily annoyed when he found out Ford had the rights to Model E, accusing Ford of trying to “kill sex.” Tesla has every opportunity to claim the name for itself but failed to act quickly enough.
Not much is known about the new Ford car except that it will be built on an all new chassis designed from the ground up to be powered by a battery and an electric motor. Industry sources claim it will also accommodate hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. If so, it will be the second company to offer a full range of alternative fuel vehicles built on a common chassis. The new Hyundai Ioniq was the first. Reportedly, Honda plans to offer a battery electric and a plug-in hybrid car based on the same chassis as its fuel cell powered Clarity.
It is important for manufacturers to make the platform they build their cars on as adaptable as possible. Not only does that lower development costs, it also allows the factory to adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace. If customers want more plug-ins or battery cars, the production mix can be altered quickly to meet demand. Ford does have a few hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, but they are now almost 8 years old and overdue for a refresh. It may be cheaper for Ford to build one chassis for many cars rather than re-engineer its existing alternative fuel models.
The new Ford plant in Mexico was the focus of controversy last week. Presidential candidate Donald Trump assailed the plan as slap in the face to American workers. “This transaction is an absolute disgrace. Our dishonest politicians and the special interests that control them are laughing in the face of all American citizens. When I am president, we will strongly enforce trade rules against unfair foreign subsidies, and impose countervailing duties to prevent egregious instances of outsourcing.” Trump apparently feels he will not be bound by annoying details like international treaties.
According to Digital Trends, the new factory will have a capacity of 300,000 cars annually. At present, Ford thinks about 50,000 of them will be Model E’s. It will shift production of the Focus to the Mexican plant when it begins production in 2019. The Model E is billed as a “Prius fighter,” although with Prius sales falling dramatically in this time of low gas prices, Ford may be a little late getting into the hybrid game.