Tuesday 25 September 2018

Electric vehicles spark China's imagination

FUEL FOR THOUGHT: The new Mondeo HEV
FUEL FOR THOUGHT: The new Mondeo HEV

Martin Brennan

China's push to ditch dirty fossil fuels has led to a stampede of leading car makers into developing a raft of electric vehicles.

Ford and other major American and European companies estimate that 6m EVs will be sold in the world's biggest car market by 2025 - so the race is on to grab a bit of the action and we are all benefiting from the increased focus on the less polluting approach.

Ford has ambitions to launch 15 electrified models in China by 2025 and VW's plans to spend over $11bn on EV developments in China is intensifying the race. Although Ford in the past has not been at the forefront of EVs, it has recently announced plans for an EV that - when developed - will be able to travel around 500km before needing a recharge.

Ford is now desperate to be in the race and, strangely, is leading the charge this month in both Ireland and China with a Mondeo, a car one would expect to see more on motorways than urban streets where electric and hybrid technology comes more into its own. As we step away from diesel, and possibly petrol-powered transport in the not-too-distant future, Ford sees the need for a hybrid, so the Mondeo HEV has hit our shores, albeit years after it has been on sale in other markets.

It is based on a four-door body style with a two-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine which - when combined with two electric motors - puts out 190bhp to give a very decent mid-range economy. Ford has used two electric motors - one to regenerate electricity when braking with the other giving maximum torque thrust. The e-motors can be used exclusively at moderate speeds around town where stop-and-start traffic will refill the battery pack under regenerative braking.

The downside of the battery pack is that the boot has a capacity of 382 litres compared with 552 in a Mondeo hatchback - the petrol tank is downsized by 10 litres which limits range. Ford claims a sprint of 0-100km in under 10 seconds, 3.8L/100km (67mpg) and CO2 emissions of 99g.

Ford compares the good fuel economy to the 150bhp two-litre diesel with Powershift automatic transmission which claims to deliver 4.8L/100km (56mpg). However, hybrids are not at their best on long, high-speed journeys and one must take into consideration that the Mondeo is not a natural city car, so a careful evaluation of user need is required.

Ford says sales this year will be between 100-200 units but this could be higher as the HEV comes only in high specification Titanium or Vignale trim.

The car is priced from €34,895 but when a promotional launch discount and VRT rebate is included, customers will be able to get behind the wheel for €31,500 during a limited period. A two-litre diesel Mondeo in Titanium trim with a 120bhp output costs €31,445.

Ford is planning more EV models for our market, setting its sights on an SUV by 2020.

Sunday Independent

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