Sustainability 2011/12

Climate Change and the Environment

Electrification: A Closer Look

In the past few years, most major global automakers, including Ford, have begun to offer a new generation of electrified vehicles to consumers. Utilities are also working to understand how to provide power to plug-in electric vehicles in a way that is effective in meeting consumer needs, efficient for electricity providers and environmentally sound.

Why the rise in interest and activity? The electrification of vehicles could cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicles, increase the use of domestic energy sources, decrease pressure on petroleum stocks and reduce urban air pollution. With the benefit of information technologies and “smart grids,” electrified automobiles could also improve the efficiency of the power grid – thereby lowering electricity costs – and facilitate the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

But many challenges remain. For example, to achieve their full potential to cut lifecycle GHG emissions from automobiles, low-carbon electric generation must make up a greater part of the total supply, and electric vehicles must become functioning parts of “smart grids.” Battery technologies are still evolving, and the cost of new-generation batteries remains high. We are also assessing supply chain issues associated with materials needed to manufacture batteries, including lithium and rare earth metals. We discuss all of these issues in more detail throughout this section.

This section provides an overview of Ford’s electrification strategy. It also explores electrification technologies and their environmental benefits, and discusses how Ford is addressing key challenges and opportunities related to vehicle electrification. For more detail on our electric vehicle technologies and other fuel-efficiency, advanced powertrain and alternative-fuel technologies, please see the Sustainable Technologies and Alternative Fuels Plan.