Ford doesn't think low gasoline prices will annihilate the electric car segment

Ronan Glon

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On average, American motorists are paying $1.97 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Filling up a gas guzzler is stunningly affordable in 2020, but Ford doesn't think low gas prices will decimate demand for electric cars.

Mark Kaufman, the Blue Oval's global director of electrification, told Green Car Reports that his team hesitantly believes up to a third of all vehicles sold globally in 2030 will be electric. He explained predicting precisely how demand will develop is difficult, especially because there's no historical data to draw lessons from, but his team remains committed to bringing a number of battery-powered models to Ford's portfolio during the 2020s.

"A lot of the different CO2 demands from around the world are going to drive us that way. Ford's perspective is that, in order to meet demand, you've got to really come up with a compelling reason for the customers to buy," he explained. The difference between the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, which was developed as an EV from the ground up, and the now-retired Focus Electric, which was a compliance car, perfectly illustrates this strategy.

Ford hopes making electric cars attractive will convince buyers to give up gasoline regardless of whether it costs one, two, or four bucks a gallon. "We think people are buying them because they're great products first," Kaufman affirmed, though he conceded the cost of ownership remains important to some buyers, notably those shopping for a commercial van like a Transit. Here again, the aforementioned Mach-E (pictured) demonstrates Ford's approach well. It's stylish, it's quick, it's practical, and it's exclusively offered with an electric powertrain. Its frunk can keep shrimp and other snacks fresh, but it can't accommodate a naturally-aspirated, 5.0-liter V8 engine.

Putting a desirable car in showrooms is futile if no one can afford it, and that's a hurdle Ford and its rivals will need to clear before the EV take rate takes off. Electric cars remain considerably more expensive than comparable gasoline-powered models, though government-issued incentives help decrease the gap, and the giant question mark still hovering over the economy's future may mean buyers will spend less on a new car (or keep their current vehicle for longer). It's still too early to tell what the market will look like when the dust settles, but Ford remains optimistic as it busily develops its first mass-produced electric pickup truck.

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