Electrification: A Closer Look

In the past few years, most major global automakers, including Ford, have announced plans to make all-electric vehicles. 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 fulfill their 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.” Also, battery technologies are still evolving, and the cost of new-generation batteries remains high. Working with researchers from the University of Michigan, we have assessed the global availability of lithium and compared this to the potential demand that could be created from the large-scale, global use of electric vehicles. We found that there are sufficient resources of lithium to supply a large-scale global fleet of electric vehicles through at least the year 2100. We are currently assessing the social and environmental challenges associated with the provision of rare earth elements for electric vehicles, in addition to investigating whether supplies will be adequate for future needs.

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 details on our electric vehicle technologies and other fuel-efficiency, advanced powertrain and alternative fuels technologies, please see the Sustainable Technologies and Alternative Fuels Plan.