STORY OF THE MONTH
Ford is saying goodbye to
cars and hello to batteries
ARTICLE BY ROBERT BALDWIN FOR ENGADGET
Ford made waves recently when it announced
it would stop producing cars
(except for the iconic Mustang) - in favour
of SUVs, trucks and other large vehicles
-- for the United States. It wasn’t a big surprise
and may have been expected since
SUV and truck sales are growing while
car sales continue to plummet.
But there’s another big change going on
at Ford: the move to electrification. “With
(Ford CEO Jim) Hackett, we’re all in. We’re
going to be bigger and we want to change
the process,” Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director
of battery electric vehicles, said during
a recent interview with Engadget.
The automaker is adjusting to a rapidly
changing automotive world. That means
dropping vehicles that no longer sell (cars)
and making sure that its line-up is electrified.
Moving away from cars and simultaneously
going electric may seem counter intuitive
(it takes more energy to move all that extra
weight), but SUVs and trucks offer more battery
space and consumers have voted with
their pocketbooks that they want the room
these bigger vehicles provide.
According to Cannis, the move to electrification
is also driven by consumers, thanks
to advancements in EV technology. “When it
was compliance cars, there’s nothing wrong
with Ford Focus Electric. It’s executed well.
But, it’s not too exciting,” he said
Instead, EVs and hybrids have become
an opportunity to appease a market hungry
for technology and a greener lifestyle. That
includes bringing the “awesome” 300-mile
range Mustang-inspired small SUV (codenamed
Mach 1) to a dealership near you in
2020. After that, the company will introduce
40 electrified vehicles (16 of which will be
EVs) worldwide by 2022.
A New Direction
This new direction and excitement about
electrified vehicles is a bit of an about-face
from 2016, when former CEO Mark Fields
shared his concerns that electric vehicle
sales were soft. That’s despite Tesla Model
3 pre-orders hitting over 300,000 a few
months before he made his remarks.
There’s a new CEO at the helm, though
and according to Cannis, Jim Hackett is
adjusting how the company operates from
end-to-end for this electrification plan. Cannis
said the company wants to move quicker,
like a start-up. It’s not a small division or
test program, this is the entire organisation
moving towards a single goal to bring electrification
to the road. It better hit those goals
because it needs to do some catching up.
Ford is behind right now. Its Focus EV
is just an internal combustion engine (ICE)
vehicle that’s been modified to be an EV.
Meanwhile, Nissan, Honda, GM, Jaguar
and, of course, Tesla are building and selling
EVs built from the ground up. Some of
those cars are actually awesome. The Focus
EV, not so much.
On Ford’s horizon, though, are crossovers,
SUVs and even a hybrid F-Series (you
can’t beat that electric torque). They’re vehicles
that are meant to be sold on features
instead of gas mileage. The car manufacturer
wants you to buy them because you have
some sort of emotional connection to them
as a brand or model.
Very few of us buy cars based on logic;
it’s all about what you like and what you think
you need. Ford is hoping you think you need
an “awesome” electric vehicle crossover
that sort of looks like a Mustang. It’s not just
hoping; it’s betting everything on it.
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