While many are still skeptical about the viability of mainstream electric vehicles, Ford appears to be betting on it. The U.S. automaker is investing $135 million in the design, engineering and production of its new hybrid-electric models going into production this year.
The company has also dedicated a 285,000-square-foot research and development lab in Dearborn, Mich., to focus on hybrids and vehicle electrification. The center, now known as the Ford Advanced Electrification Center, employs more than 1,000 engineers, 60 of whom were added in the last year. Ford also plans to double its battery-testing capabilities by 2013, and hopes to speed up the development of hybrid and electric vehicles by up to 25 percent.
Ford says it hopes the investments in in-house technology development will result in more affordable and fuel-efficient vehicles.
"The good news for customers is that they not only have more choice, but they have faster access to Ford's latest and greatest in fuel-saving technologies and vehicles," said Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of Powertrain Engineering.
While Ford is indeed investing a hefty sum on its electric vehicle business, it is not the only automaker to put serious cash on the line. Remember that GM invested $750 million on its Chevy Volt model alone.