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Ford Ramps Up Electric Vehicle Development

DEARBORN, Mich.—Ford Motor Co. F +0.42% is bringing more of its hybrid and electric vehicle development in house as the No. 2 U.S. auto maker by volume prepares to challenge Toyota Motor Corp.’s 7203.TO +0.32% supremacy in the market.

Ford said it is investing $135 million to construct an advanced electrification center in Dearborn that will employ 1,000 engineers.

“This rapid growth is going to have a major impact on our development capabilities, said Joe Bakaj, Ford’s vice president of Powertrain Engineering.

Ford, which is launching five new electric or hybrid electric vehicles this year, began building its own hybrid transmissions two weeks ago at a plant in Michigan after sourcing the parts from Japan. Its electric vehicle batteries are made at another Michigan plant.

Ford won’t give projections for sales of the models but is expanding its capacity to make hybrids and electric vehicles to 100,000 units—three times its current level.

Earlier this summer Ford began selling its Focus EV in small numbers in three states. Next up is the C-Max hybrid, a car based on the Focus that is rated to achieve 47 miles on a gallon of gasoline in combined city and highway driving and is meant to compete with Toyota’s Prius models.

Later this year, Ford will sell a plug in C-Max hybrid called Energi that will travel 20 miles on the battery before the gasoline engine powers the vehicle, similar to the Chevrolet Volt made by General Motors Co. GM -0.40%

Ford also will offer a hybrid and plug in hybrid on its forthcoming Fusion sedan.


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