DEARBORN, MI --- Ford Motor Co. has named Nancy Gioia to the new position of director of global electrification, reflecting the company's decision to accelerate its electric vehicle strategy. 

Gioia will lead strategy and planning for the next generation of Ford's global electric vehicle portfolio, touching all aspects of electrified transportation including product planning, supplier partnerships and collaboration with the energy industry and government, Ford said. 

Ford has announced plans to produce a pure battery electric Transit Connect commercial van in 2010, a battery electric Focus compact car in 2011, and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and next-generation hybrid electric vehicle in 2012. 

"We recognize that pursuing electrification as one of our technology paths presents unique challenges for commercialization of the vehicles," said Sue Cischke, Ford's group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering. "It requires us to collaborate with new partners, define new business models, connect to a new infrastructure for the vehicles and meet new customer expectations around the globe." 

"Ford is strongly positioned to accelerate its electric vehicle strategy, thanks in part to the significant research we've already completed," said Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering. "Nancy's unique background and experience in leading the hybrid technology and electric vehicle product teams position her well to coordinate our electric efforts across product development, sustainability and government affairs as we move to the next frontier of this new form of transportation." 

The globalization of Ford's electrification strategy is well under way, with test fleets on both sides of the Atlantic. At the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford of Europe revealed the first of a fleet of battery electric vehicle prototypes based on the Ford Focus, and specially developed to participate in the U.K. government's "Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicles" demonstration initiative next year. The research program aims to test the technology's suitability for potential future application in Ford's European passenger car range. 

A consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University will use the fleet of 15 prototype Ford Focus BEVs and a charging infrastructure in and around the London Borough of Hillingdon starting in early 2010. 

The Focus BEV prototype is based on the current European Ford Focus and will use a new all-electric powertrain, developed with Ford supplier partner Magna. This technology is based on that being developed for Ford's new-generation C-sized global vehicle architecture that will be launched in North America in 2011. 

"This fleet of Focus BEV prototypes is an important step toward developing a realistic solution and viable market for electric vehicles in the U.K., Europe and North America," Gioia said. "Our electrification strategy absolutely depends on strong alliances with key partners whose expertise and resources complement our extensive experience and global production capabilities." 

In North America, Ford and its energy industry partners continue to collaborate on the connectivity issue between electric vehicles and the electric grid. Over the past two years, Ford and its utility partners have logged more than 75,000 miles on a test fleet of plug-in Escape Hybrids. Plug-in hybrid research focuses on four primary areas: battery technology, vehicle systems, customer usage and grid infrastructure. 

In addition, Ford has developed an intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications and control system for its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that "talks" directly with the nation's electric grid. 

Ford is set to deliver its first electrified vehicle in 2010 when it will launch a pure battery electric Transit Connect small commercial van. The vehicle will be targeted to fleets and businesses with short, defined transportation routes and the ability to return to a central charging location at day's end. 

In 2011, Ford will launch the battery electric Ford Focus passenger vehicle. Built off the new global C platform, the BEV Focus will be produced at the Michigan Assembly Plant for both retail and commercial customers. 

"Broad commercialization of electric transportation will require unprecedented collaboration among all stakeholders and new ways of doing business," Gioia said. "Ford is committed to help lead the way to find creative solutions to ensure that electrified vehicles can deliver benefits to our customers, the environment and our business around the globe in a sustainable way."