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Ford targets cost savings in next-generation electric vehicles

Dearborn – — To make electric cars run farther and cost less, most attention by automakers has been on batteries. Ford Motor Co. has also been working on the power electronics box: Among other functions, it converts direct-current electricity from the battery to alternating-current electricity in order to power the electric motor.

“Power electronics is almost as expensive as batteries,” said Anand Sankaran, chief engineer and executive technical leader of energy storage and hybrid vehicle systems, in a recent roundtable discussion with reporters. “And the costs of both are coming down at similar rates.”

Sankaran declined to identify cost savings, citing confidential agreements with suppliers.

But even suppliers — including Johnson Controls, which makes battery cells but not power electronics boxes — agree that cost savings will need to be shared between the two components to make electric vehicles more affordable.

“It’s being worked on,” Brian Kesseler, president of Johnson Controls’ power solutions business, said in a recent interview about cost reductions for battery cells. “But the cell costs aren’t the whole story; it’s not the only answer” for cost savings.

Though the price of hybrids has come down in the past few years, it is difficult to pinpoint the true cost of hybridization because costs vary depending on the powertrain and how many battery cells are included in each battery pack, said Jim Hall, analyst at 2953 Analytics LLP.

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From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131019/AUTO0102/310190019#ixzz2iJJNdA1I


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