Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ford on 'electric' bandwagon at last as Kuga leads hybrid drive

In Focus... in Amsterdam: Ford Go Further

Ford Kuga
Ford Kuga
Ford Kuga

John Galvin

Nobody can accuse Ford of being early to the electric car revolution. Now they are trying to make up for lost time with the announcement that the forthcoming all-new Kuga will have a 225PS plug-in hybrid with an EV range of 50km.

The Kuga is due here by year's end.

It will have three hybrids in the range - a standard one, which Ford call a self-charging hybrid, a PHEV and a mild hybrid, based on the existing Ecoboost 1.0 litre triple.

The Kuga is sleeker and, despite being longer and wider, looks smaller in the metal. A better quality interior will please both new and existing customers. There's plenty of headroom - even in the rear.

Ford Kuga
Ford Kuga

As Eddie Cunningham revealed last week, the Kuga will initially launch with petrol and diesels with the hybrids due shortly afterwards.

Both the Fiesta and Focus also get mild hybrid powertrains, based around a 48v electrical architecture.

Electrifying commercial vehicles is where Ford believes huge gains can be made, given their harder working lives in urban environments. Already, they have a fleet of PHEV Transit vans on trial with selected customers in London. These have an EV range of 50km; with an Ecoboost petrol engine they have a total range of 500km, suitable for longer deliveries. A rapid charger isn't fitted, so a full charge takes three to five hours.

A mild hybrid Transit, based on a diesel, is also on the way. That combination should reduce fuel costs by 8pc.

A fully electric Transit is expected by 2021 but it's already a running prototype.

Telematics, increasingly important, and Ford have developed the first open-source data cloud to gather and store all the data needed for self-driving cars.

We'll expect to be constantly connected so our phones can report a car's position and maintenance status. It will be possible to schedule routine maintenance remotely.

For this to work, by year's end, most Fords will come with the option of a 3G modem as part of the navigation system, ready to drive all this data to the cloud.

The final launch in Amsterdam was a first and fleeting glimpse of the new Puma, an SUV to slot between the EcoSport and Kuga when it arrives later this year.

Like the Kuga, it will have a mild-hybrid powertrain with up to 155PS. Its key feature, though, is a best-in-class load space of 456 litres. We're promised innovative luggage solutions, including the ability to carry two golf bags in an upright position.

We were only allowed to see the Puma for a few seconds so I can't really tell you much about it. The original Puma was a small Fiesta-based coupé. I wonder if this is the right nameplate for yet another small SUV.

At the moment, one-in-five Fords sold are SUVs. With these launches, Ford is determined to increase that ratio.

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