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Ford Will Unveil Chevrolet Bolt Competitor This Year

EV with 200-mile range could launch at the L.A. auto show.

Ford will unveil a 200-plus-mile capable electric vehicle designed to compete with the Chevrolet Bolt later this year, AUTOMOBILE has learned. Scant details are available, and it is unclear whether Ford will bring a long-range full electric to market by 2017, the year General Motors plans to launch the Chevy Bolt. But the Ford competitor serves as reassurance that the age-old rivalry between the two mainstream American brands goes beyond pony cars and pickup trucks, and extends to green cars.

With this car, Ford also will be ready to compete with Tesla, which has promised an "affordable" pure electric called the Model 3 for under $40,000 after its oft-delayed Model X debut, as well as with potential rivals from Google and Apple. Last year, Google unveiled its own fully autonomous, electric prototypes, assembled by Roush, a close and longtime supplier to Ford Motor Company. Apple has hired away engineers from Ford Motor Company and is rumored to be working on a car of its own.

Apple may be more interested in providing battery technology for electric vehicles, our source speculates, to compete with the output from Tesla's $5-billion Gigafactory, a plant already under construction near Reno, Nevada. Tesla's objective with the plant is to become a supplier of cost-effective lithium-ion batteries for EVs.

There's no indication that the Ford electric car will be ready for the New York International Auto Show this April. Instead, a debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November seems likely - after all, California's electric car mandate has pushed development of the technology. Ford cannot afford to slip behind the competition in developing its own battery chemistry. The Chevy Bolt, which premiered in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is scheduled to begin production in 2017 at General Motors' Orion, Michigan, assembly plant.

GM says the Bolt is designed to run for more than 200 miles between a full charge, and would cost about $30,000 after tax incentives. The concept is capable of DC fast-charging, and uses such materials as aluminum, magnesium and carbon-fiber to keep the body's weight down. Fortunately, the production model is likely to get a different name: Tata markets a small sedan in India named Bolt.

Ford's official word is that the story is not accurate.