Ford Creates 'Team Edison' to Fast-Track Development of Electric Cars

But can Edison beat Tesla?

Ford

The company created by Henry Ford is taking inspiration from one of the man's closest friends. Ford Motor Company is forming "Team Edison," a dedicated group that will work to accelerate the development of electric cars, according to a Reuters report. 

"The idea is to think big, move fast, and make quicker decisions," as demand for electric cars increases and technology advances, Sherif Marakby, Ford vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters

But it's unclear exactly how Team Edison will impact Ford's near-future product plans. The team will be based on the Detroit area, and will work with regional Ford electrification teams in China and Europe, Marakby said. It will also pursue partnerships with other companies, such as suppliers. However, the formation of Team Edison does not alter Ford's existing electrification plans, which call for spending $4.5 billion by 2020 on new models. Most of the models named so far are hybrids, although the automaker has said it will launch an electric SUV with a 300-mile range. Marakby did not say how many new all-electric models Ford is planning.

Crosstown rival General Motors announced on Monday that it will launch 20 new all-electric cars by 2023, with the first two due in the next 18 months. The formation of a dedicated electric-car team is a good start, but Ford will need to commit to actually building more electric cars in order to match GM, not to mention Tesla. Ford's only current all-electric car is the Focus Electric, which has a shorter range than most competitors, and which Ford has done little to promote.

Like other automakers, Ford's electrification push is likely driven by stricter emissions standards. China, the world's largest car market, will implement sales quotas for electric cars and plug-in hybrids beginning in 2019. Some European countries have also discussed banning sales of new gasoline and diesel cars in the coming decades—something some California regulators would like to do as well.