Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would build up to 100 electricity-powered vehicles by 1993 for U.S. and European testing as pilot production models before going into mass production.
Earlier this year, General Motors Corp. said it would build its Impact electricity-powered car at a Lansing assembly plant. Officials haven't said when production would begin, but there has been speculation that it could begin as early as 1993.Chrysler Corp. has put fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles on the road, but the No. 3 automaker hasn't announced any production plans for an electricity-powered vehicle.
Each of the automakers is racing against a 1998 California deadline to produce vehicles with no emissions. California law requires that by that time, 10 percent of an automaker's sales in the state must be zero-emission vehicles, essentially mandating electric vehicles.
Ford's announcement Wednesday said the company planned to produce electric vehicles in the second half of the decade.
"What we're announcing today is that we're in the electric vehicle business, we're in it on an international basis and we're going to do our homework carefully before embarking on any large-scale production," said John P. McTague, Ford vice president for technical affairs.
The company said the pilot vehicles, based on the Ford European Escort van, will use a sodium-sulfur battery, which Ford invented in 1965. GM's Impact will be powered initially by conventional lead-acid batteries.
The Big Three are members of the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, a joint research project to develop new battery technology for use in production vehicles. The consortium is soliciting help from a variety of sources, including energy companies and private inventors.