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US car industry bailout: Ford pledges to go electric

Ford submitted its latest begging letter – sorry, business planning assumption – to the US Congress this week, outlining how it is a viable long-term business that will return to profitability and how the US car manufacturing market is worthy of being propped up in the short term with a government bail out.

As part of the submission – on Ford’s website here – the car maker has reveled details of an accelerated plan to make more electric vehicles.

Ford says it plans to introduce a full battery electric van for commercial fleet use in 2010 and a fully electric Sedan in 2011. The plans for greener vehicles also include a broader range of hybrid-electric vehicles by 2012 and the introduction of advanced plug-in hybrids. Ford’s accelerated path to electrification will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

But the car maker says all this needs investment of $14bn on advanced technologies and products to improve fuel efficiency over the next seven years, and is asking Congress for a $9bn bridging loan – though Ford says it hopes to complete its turnaround without actually needing to access the loan as it has no short-term liquidity issues.

As part of the “shared sacrifice” outlined by Ford President and CEO Alan Mullaly, the company also says it will sell its corporate aircraft as part of the overall cash improvement plan. Awww bless, poor lambs.

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