Ford’s Approach to Electrification
Dec. 8, 2020—Ford Motor Company has crafted a four-pronged strategic approach for its latest frontier—electrification.
As the industry continues to lean toward electric vehicles, Ford aims to be at the top of the list—even once drivers have a plethora of choices. How does that look from a corporate perspective?
Ford’s global director of electrification, Mark Kaufman, shared that insight as part of a Nov. 17 webinar from the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association. He talked about the four broad goals that the company had in making electric vehicles, which touched on the marketability, the likeability and the performance that they hoped to bring in the new models.
Playing to Their Strengths
Kaufman said when Ford saw how many competitors they would have in the electric vehicle market, “We made the conscious decision to play to our strengths.”
Much of the feedback Ford received claimed “electric cars are boring,” Kaufman said. This is why the brand decided to play to its strengths and hit the ground running with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E.
Kaufman said the Mach-E “really is exhilarating to drive,” and that’s why it has been aimed at “tech progressives, who crave new and amplified experiences,” he said.
But the Mach-E is not the only electric vehicle to be announced by the automaker. The all-electric Ford F-150 has made headlines and turned heads even before reaching production. The truck is rumored to have a 200 mile driving range and enters production in 2022.
Even more recently, the automaker announced an electric cargo van. The 2022 E-Transit cargo van is the latest endeavor for the automaker’s $11.5 billion investment into electrification.
Kaufman said Ford is known for a variety of attributes from its low ownership cost, to quiet powertrain, to “being fun to drive.”
In its approach to electrification, Kaufman said the automaker will continue to do each of these things while also making its vehicles more adaptable within its electric lineup. Take the E-Transit, for example.
The all-electric cargo van will launch with a variety of roof heights, body lengths, and cab variants, Kaufman said, making it able to serve across a multitude of practices.
When it came to designing the Mustang Mach-E, Kaufman said, “Having the battery at the bottom of the vehicle gives it a low center of gravity.”
Kaufman said Ford vehicles also stand out for their repairability. He said that is due to the vehicles’ flexible architecture, battery scale, motors and gearboxes.
The automaker’s dedication to repairability comes from its “desire to have commonality” amongst repair procedures and equipment, Kaufman said.
Scale and Technology
“We know there is a lot of anxiety about charging,” said Kaufman, noting that some drivers were unaware that EVs can charge while it’s raining.
That’s why Ford plans to emphasize the capabilities of its app, FordPass to educate its drivers. The latest updates to the app allow drivers to find the nearest charging ports and even monitor their vehicle’s charging progress in real-time. Kaufman said the FordPass app also includes pre-negotiated charging rates.
As the popularity of electric vehicles increase, so will the number of vehicles needing repair. Kaufman said in order to compete with the growing number of vehicle sales they predict, Ford will be training over 2,000 dealers how to work on high voltage systems used by electric vehicles. Kaufman said that is in addition to the almost 10,000 EV technicians that the automaker has already trained.
Business Model Innovation
The final part of the approach is to redesign the automaker’s business model across the value chain, Kaufman said.
“The line length of assembling an electric vehicle is shorter,” Kaufman said. The decrease in length of the assembly line allows for more flexibility, he said, noting that products can be created in various plants as opposed to conventionally-powered vehicles.
Lastly, Kaufman explained plans for recycling end-of-life batteries, including a track-and-trace program. Recycling vehicle batteries is part of the automaker’s bigger picture: to be carbon-neutral by 2050.