| SHANGHAI, April 19
SHANGHAI, April 19 Ford Motor Co is taking
a cautious approach to producing electric and plug-in hybrid
vehicles for the Chinese market, citing uncertainty about
consumer interest and government policy, despite a rush by
carmakers to jump into the sector.
"You don't get any prizes for being first to market," said
Trevor Worthington, Ford's vice president for product
development in Asia Pacific. The challenge is to offer
electrified vehicles "at the right time".
Ford earlier this month outlined plans to offer by 2025
hybrid or fully electric versions of all models built in China
with its domestic joint venture partner, Chongqing Changan
Automobile Co Ltd.
However, Ford executives said how many such vehicles are
built and sold will depend on factors including government
subsidies, regulatory policy and when battery-electric cars can
match the cost and fast refuelling of gasoline vehicles.
During a meeting with reporters ahead of the Shanghai auto
show on Wednesday, Worthington and Mazen Hammoud, the
automaker's Asia Pacific powertrain director, said battery
recharging would be a critical issue.
"Our goal needs to be something on the order of less than
half an hour" to deliver an 80 percent charge, said Hammoud.
Ultimately, "the goal needs to be similar to refuelling a
gasoline vehicle. We are a long way from that."
Worthington also said Ford has a "team of people who meet
with the government every week" to discuss the still evolving
policies designed to promote vehicle electrification.
Reuters reported in March, citing industry executives, that
China was considering easing proposed quotas aimed at producing
more electric vehicles. China has strongly
supported and subsidized electric vehicles, but is gradually
swapping out incentives for hard targets automakers must meet.
Worthington added Ford intended to bring to market what
Chinese officials call "new energy vehicles" in a cost efficient
way. He also expressed confidence the Chinese government would
not push regulations that harm the industry.
"We provide huge employment," he said. "I don't think they
are going to do things to make it impossible for the joint
ventures to survive and thrive."
(Reporting by Joseph White; Editing by Adam Jourdan)