Autocar spent two days at Ford HQ in Dearborn, Mich. learning about where Ford is going, told in the words of seven top-level Ford execs including company chairman Bill Ford, Jr. and CEO Jim Hackett. The resulting article is a long read but well worth the time, with Ford still in the early phases of an immense product reorganization that will last into the 2020s, and many still not clear on how the automaker plans to capitalize on the plans that have been announced.
Among the key takeaways:
Ford plans to invest $11 billion in electric vehicles by 2022 to get 40 EVs in its global lineup. Darren Palmer left his role overseeing a performance portfolio of traditional ICE vehicles to become the product development director of Project Edison, which would work up ideas for a range of high-performance EVs. He told Autocar that Ford is "hitting our biggest icons first" in the move to electrification that will open next year with the Mustang-based crossover expected to be called the Mach E (prototype pictured). Sometime after that, we'll get an electric F-150 and an EV Transit, but Palmer was mum on the possibility of a battery-powered Bronco or Ranger.
Palmer says Ford won't need to tack on huge MSRPs to these electrified "icons," because it plans to make its EVs "extremely desirable, but at an attainable price.” That's a fantastic goal, and Ford knows its numbers better than we do, but when various analysts predict a "profit desert" for electric powertrains, autonomous driving and connectivity, we're keen to see how Ford manages to do that without asking un-Ford-like sums.
As for electric range, Palmer said, "A car’s range in miles begins with a 1, 2 or 3. Our research shows that when it’s a 3 anxiety drops away fast. A 300-plus capability is something we’re aiming at."
One step back from full electrification, Joe Hinrichs, the head of Ford for the Americas, said one of the company challenges was getting "consumers to see hybridisation as tried and tested technology, not a science project but the vehicle they love with a more efficient powertrain."
Additional tidbits in the Autocar story include Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley explaining the declining sedan segments and more details about Ford's five-platform strategy for all the brand's models that aims to save $26 billion and introduce new cars more quickly. Bill Ford Jr. also talks about how the previous "One Ford" initiative might have gone too far and CEO Jim Hackett lays out the vision for "human-centred design," which, in Autocar's words, wants "to reduce the ‘design gap’ between truth and perception by finding the particular sources of difficulty and refining them away." In five years, these will be the lines in the sand the company will be judged on.