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Ford to invest $4.5bn in electric cars

Electric battery display and central instrument panel on 2013 Ford Focus Electric. Image copyright Getty Images

Ford says it will invest $4.5bn (£3bn) to expand its fleet of plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles, and will start selling 13 new electric models by 2020.

That will include a new Ford Focus that charges more quickly and has a longer range, the US car giant said.

It also intends to move into the commercial ride-hailing market occupied by firms such as Uber and Lyft.

The market is worth $5 trillion, the company said.

The initiatives are part of a broader effort by chief executive Mark Fields to counter firms offering alternatives to car ownership and regulators who want vehicles to emit less carbon dioxide.

Mr Fields said the company wants 40% of its vehicles to have electric versions by 2020, up from 13% now.

The new Focus will take an 80% charge in 30 minutes, about two hours faster than the current version, Ford said. It will also have an estimated 100-mile range, as opposed to 76 miles.

The firm also plans to introduce a Mondeo hybrid and a C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid in China next year.

Ford currently sells electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of its Focus, Fusion, C-Max and Lincoln MKZ cars.

Ford also wants to expand an employee van-hailing service beyond its sprawling corporate campus, and develop it commercially.

"The market for vehicle miles travelled is $5 trillion," Mr Fields said. "We get zero of that."

Ken Washington, Ford's vice president of research, said: "Our vision is to be a mobility service provider, beyond building a vehicle that would be in somebody else's fleet. We see this as a business we want to be in."

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