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Ford will invest $4.5bn (£3bn) into a range of 13 electric vehicles, to launch by the end of the decade Reuters

Ford is investing $4.5bn (£3bn) in producing a range of 13 new electric cars by 2020, including a new electric Focus which will recharge by 80% in 30 minutes. By the end of the decade, 40% of the models Ford sells globally will be offered as electric versions.

The company will also use the significant investment to expand its battery research and development operation globally. This will result in additional research and engineering capabilities in Europe and Asia, introducing electric vehicles to new markets.

Ford says its new, second-generation electric Focus will have a 100-mile range, and can be recharged from zero to 80 miles in half an hour.

This is still some way behind Tesla's ability to charge its cars at a rate of around 200 miles per hour, through bespoke Tesla chargers - but it is an improvement of two hours over the current electric Focus nonetheless. Production of the new electric Focus will begin in late 2016, with the car being sold in Europe and the US.

"The challenge going forward isn't who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organises that technology in a way that most excites and delights people," said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Product Development and chief technical officer, Ford Motor Company. "By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward."

Ford is also using the money to look at how consumers interact with their cars at a social level. In 2016, the company will double the number of projects related to "observing how buyers interact with vehicles, gaining insight into the cognitive, social, cultural, technological and economic nuances that affect product design."

The investment is a key milestone in Ford's history, and a milestone in the journey traditional car manufacturers are making towards an electric future. While Tesla earns all of the headlines for its Model S and Model X, established car makers have been slower to get off the mark. This investment, plus electric plans from Porsche, VW, Audi and others, means the car showrooms will become a very different place by the start of the next decade.

The news comes just a day after it was claimed by company insiders that Jaguar Land Rover is looking to enter a team into the Formula E electric racing championship, under the Jaguar name. The source, speaking to Sky News, claims an announcement will be made on 15 December, and will pave the way for Jaguar to build its first electric road cars.