Loan us $9 billion and we'll improve the efficiency of our cars.
That's the pitch Ford today made to Congress in its bid to get a rescue loan from the federal government. The ailing motor company said it plans to boost gas mileage, come out with more hybrids and release fully electric cars as part of an overall strategy to return to profitability by 2011.
Under the plan, Ford says it will improve the fuel economy of its fleet of cars by 14 percent in 2009 compared to 2005 and by 26 and 36 percent by 2012 and 2015, respectively, over 2005. (Ford's average has hovered around 20 miles per gallon.). Some of these improvements, however, will be mandated by improved mileage regulations already passed.
Additionally, the company will make a more concerted push into electrics. It will release an electric van in 2010 and then a sedan in 2011. These cars will be sold to fleet customers, who presumably will have their own charging stations and do not have long distance driving requirements. After fine-tuning the technology, Ford hopes to bring more hybrids and all-electric cars to consumers in 2012.
Ford will discuss the partners it has enlisted for electric drivetrains and batteries at the North American Intenational Auto Show in Detroit which kicks off Jan. 11.
The company further added that it will increase the number of models it sells that can be defined as "advanced technology vehicles" under the Energy Independence and Security Act. By 2014, 90 percent of Ford's cars will meet the definition. However, the definition includes flex-fuel cars, which tend to get filled up with regular gas far more than alternative fuels, according to user studies.
Meanwhile, car makers are in free fall in terms of sales due to the recession. General Motors said car sales fell 41 percent in November while Ford, Toyota and Honda saw sales drop in the 30 percent to 32 percent range.