Bill Ford 2006Enlarge Photo
Will one-fourth of all new vehicles be either hybrids, plug-ins, or electric vehicles in less than a decade?
That's what one of the world's top auto-industry execs thinks—at least for his company. In a piece in Fortune Magazine, Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] Chairman Bill Ford made that prediction, anticipating that about 25 percent of the company's fleet will be electrified by 2020, up from just a couple percent currently.
But Ford caged that approximation, saying that it's hard to predict how quickly technology will be adopted. "You might as well throw a dart. One thing I've learned is that you can't push technology. It has to be pulled."
Ford had previously been estimating that between ten and 25 percent of its vehicles would be electrified. In quoting the higher figure, the chairman—known for his environmental focus—is either being optimistic or this reflects a harder push for the company.
2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - charging pointEnlarge Photo
Ford pointed to its plans for the latest Focus Electric models and how whether powered by gasoline, diesel, or electricity, they'll roll off the same assembly lines. Following that, an electric version of the C-Max five-seat hatchback is in the works, as is a plug-in hybrid.
He isn't the only high-ranking auto executive to think that electric or electrified vehicles will be a significant portion of the new-vehicle market in a decade. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has said that he expects that electric vehicles (not including hybrids) could account for ten percent of the company's global sales by 2020.
"We need to build a smart grid and install millions of car-charging stations in garages and in public spots while creating the IT that ties it all together," said Ford, who is rallying for assistance with R&D from Washington, D.C. "If we don't, there's a danger America will get left behind."
Ford also spoke out for making cities more livable, and backing up the growth in vehicles worldwide with "smart roads, smart parking, and smart public transit."