A report from TechCrunch suggests that Ford is working on its third generation EV, which increasingly looks like it will focus on more affordable and cost effective models compared to the current line-up.
According to the article, ex-Tesla and Ford Advanced EV development boss Alan Clarke is leading a Ford skunkworks project to develop a low-cost EV platform that could deploy "several types of vehicles," Ford CEO, Jim Farley, stated during a recent fourth-quarter earnings call.
The project, which is said to be about two years old and based in Irvine, California, also features engineers from Auto Motive Power (AMP), a start-up specializing in EV powertrains that Ford acquired in 2023.
But despite ploughing millions into a second-generation platform, which Ford says will underpin an upcoming pick-up and a large, three-row SUV to rival those from Kia and Volvo, it is already looking to the generation beyond that.
"All of our EVs teams are ruthlessly focused on cost and efficiency in our EV products, because the ultimate competition is going to be the affordable Tesla and the Chinese OEMs," Farley said, according to TechCrunch.
It is all part of Ford’s recalibration of its approach to electric vehicles, as its current heading – which seems to focus on large, heavy and expensive SUV and pick-up models – is losing money.
Ford’s current battery-powered models lost $4.7 billion last year, and projects the losses will grow to as much as $5.5 billion this year, according to Fortune.
Just last year, Ford Motor announced that it was postponing the $12 billion it had planned to spend on new EV manufacturing capacity, citing the fact that customers in North America were reluctant to pay the premium demanded by EVs.
The calm before the storm
Depending on who you speak to, the EV market appears to be in a state of flux at the moment, with Ford stating that the strongest customer demand for alternative fuel vehicles is for hybrids, not pure EVs. Ford expects sales of those hybrid models to grow 40 per cent this year, up from last year’s 25 per cent increase.
Whether this is down to waning demand for pure EVs, or simply because Ford isn’t offering the right product to the customer, is yet to be seen. That said, most of the world’s largest automakers appear to be on a push to produce much smaller and more affordable electric models this year and next.
We recently reported on the fact the diminutive Hyundai Casper EV looks set to branch out of its domestic market in South Korea and into Europe. Similarly, Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen are all poised to launch similarly ‘affordable’ electric superminis and city cars very soon.
Even Tesla isn’t immune to customer backlash on pricing, with Elon Musk cutting the price of the Model 3 late last year in a bid to drum up sales. In addition to this, rumors suggest we could be seeing Tesla’s first €25,000 car (around £21,000 / $26,900 / AUS$41,500) produced at its Berlin Gigafactory early as next year.
It feels like now that all of the early adopters and wealthy buyers are out of the way, automotive brands have to start making electric cars for the people. Something that is etched into Ford's history.
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Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.