Photo: Ford

Last year, Ford said it would set aside $4.5 billion to add 13 hybrid and electric cars by 2020, a move that would help the company meet emissions regs. Then last week, Ford admitted “no immediate plans” to go toe-to-toe with Tesla. Now, a new report from Autonews quotes CEO Mark Fields, saying the blue oval will indeed get into the long-range EV game.

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Lots of car companies are electrifying their fleets these days, in large part because of the EPA’s strict emissions regulations. To combat that, Ford told Bloomberg it was adding 13 hybrid and EV models by 2020. But this week, Automotive News said Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering indicated that there is no 200-plus mile Ford EV coming in the near future.

Now the industry publication quotes Ford’s first quarter earnings conference call, wherein Ford’s CEO Mark Fields responded to a question about whether the carmaker would build a 200-mile range EV.

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Fields reportedly responded by saying his company wants to be “among the leaders or in a leadership position” as long-range EVs become more prevalent. He continued, saying: “Clearly that’s something we’re developing for.”

Automotive News says this is the first time Ford has even hinted that it might compete with Tesla’s offerings and Chevrolet’s Bolt, though the news site did admit that Fields provided no indication of timing. Ford has definitely been cagey about the subject in the past.

So sure, Fields said Ford wants to be a leader in the EV game, and maybe hinted that his company would build a long-range electric vehicle. But that’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Every car company is eventually going to have to get in the long-range EV game, and all Fields seems to have said was that Ford wants to be a leader in that field (kind of obvious, right?), but not necessarily in the near future.

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The report claims Ford’s future car will come with various types of electrified powertrains, will be called the “Model E,” and that it will go into production sometime around 2019 at a plant in Mexico.

Whether that’s true or not, it’s still cool to know that Ford is at least nerding out and developing long-range electric vehicles. That explains why they dropped 200 large to get their hands on an early Tesla Model X last month.