Ford is betting on commercial electric vehicles, affordable EVs, says CEO

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by Kivi

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11.03.2020

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Ford’s plan for electric vehicles doesn’t include anything quite like the loaded GMC Hummer EV, but referring to the so-called supertruck last week helped Ford CEO Jim Farley define Ford’s EV strategy.

During Ford’s Q3 results call with analysts, Farley said its upcoming EVs might not be as “dramatic as a $100,000 retail off-roader”—a hook to the $112,595 Hummer EV—but Ford plans to make a bigger impact with its EV strategy. 

2021 Ford Transit van

2021 Ford Transit van

The fully electric versions of the forthcoming Ford Transit van and the Ford F-150 pickup will be “true work trucks,” Farley confirmed—not primarily lifestyle vehicles. In addition to electrifying its leading commercial vehicles, Ford plans to make electric versions of its “iconic, high-volume products,” too—like the Mustang Mach-E SUV, which went into regular production last week. 

“We don’t want to just be one of the many OEMs to transition to electric,” Farley explained. “We want to lead the electric change. That’s why we’ve committed to Paris. That’s why we’re standing with California. And that’s in our capital.”

Ford hasn’t shied away from pointing out that it’s the only full-line U.S. automaker to have taken a stand with California and help assert that state’s right to regulate its greenhouse-gas emissions and mandate electric vehicles.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

On the other hand, the company hasn’t yet said whether this will mean spending well beyond the $11.5 billion it had earmarked for a first wave of electrification the company had announced several years ago. Farley provided a hint of what’s next. “This is not a propulsion story,” he said. “This is an investment in the digitization of our business.”

The CEO explained that while we might not be in the first inning of the electric transformation, and it’s full of cost challenges relating to the battery pack, the second inning holds a lot of potential in the commercial sector—with bi-directional charging, job-site charging, connected services, and all of the supporting roles for EVs affirming their low ownership costs. To that, Ford is hoping to revamp its business toward a “digital kind of service model.”

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Farley didn’t reveal further details about the actual portfolio in addition to the F-150 and Transit, but did say that more hybrid models are coming next year. And he hinted about future electric SUVs to be assembled at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario plant. 

It’s a different approach—and message—than GM, which has been working hard to be disruptive with the product and assert that it has unique propulsion technology and that every single vehicle within its Ultium propulsion strategy will be profitable from day one.

By contrast, Ford’s plan on being disruptive with the business behind the vehicles instead of trying to create entirely new sub brands and marketing gloss might encourage Wall Street to give the automaker the time frame to see it through. 

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