Ford covertly established a “skunkworks” team to produce affordable electric cars

The CEO of Ford stated during a Tuesday earnings call that the company established a “skunkworks” lab two years ago with the goal of creating reasonably priced electric vehicles. Alan Clarke, who joined Ford as executive director of advanced EV development after spending 12 years at Tesla, is in charge of the group, according to TechCrunch.

Like all major automakers, Ford is working hard to figure out how to make profitable electric cars. In the final quarter of 2023, the company’s Model e division—which is in charge of EVs and software—reported a $1.6 billion loss. Ford declared that in order to better meet consumer demand, it would reduce the rate at which it was investing in electric vehicles.Farley reiterated that the primary objective of the new EV platform is affordable EVs, even though he did not disclose any specifics about it. Additionally, he stated that although upfront costs have caused the shift to happen more slowly than anticipated, EV buyers who were once persuaded to buy an EV still stick with them.

As the ultimate competitors in the EV market, Farley believes that “affordable Teslas and Chinese EV brands” are what this new platform aims to counter with its low cost. The platform will contribute to its EVs’ global price reduction. The Tesla Model Y is currently less expensive than the Ford Mach-E, and the Model 3 sedan is even less expensive. Even though the Mach-E is one of Ford’s more expensive models, the company has not turned a profit on it. Ford wants to change this by utilising the new, affordable EV platform to generate some revenue.

However, the disclosure of a secret lab developing affordable electric vehicles (EVs) indicates Ford’s continued commitment to competing with Tesla and other manufacturers in the segment.During an investor earnings call, Ford CEO Jim Farley stated, “We made a bet in silence two years ago.” “To develop an affordable EV platform, we assembled a highly skilled skunkworks team. Some of the world’s top EV engineers were part of this small team, which operated independently from the Ford headquarters. It was a startup.

- Advertisement -

The team is based in Irvine, California, and is made up of engineers from Auto Motive Power, also known as AMP, an energy management startup that Ford purchased last year, according to TechCrunch. According to the outlet, Anil Paryani, the founder of AMP, worked alongside Clarke at Tesla for a number of years before taking on the role of executive director of engineering at Ford.

According to Farley, Clarke’s team has created a versatile platform that can be implemented on multiple vehicle types and serve as a substantial installed base for the software and services offered by Ford Pro, the company’s commercial services division.According to him, Ford wants to take on Chinese automakers like BYD, who have achieved success in selling millions of reasonably priced plug-in cars globally, as well as Tesla, which is presently developing its own low-cost EV.

However, there will be a delay in the release of these cars. It’s likely that the skunkworks team is developing Ford’s third-generation automobiles. These will follow the company’s second-generation EVs, which include a three-row SUV and an electric truck, which are anticipated to begin production at the Blue Oval campus in Tennessee in 2025. According to Farley, those cars will turn a profit “in the first 12 months of their launch.”

Additionally, he stated that hybrids will be “increasingly important” to Ford’s future. Farley stated he anticipates a 40% increase in the company’s hybrid sales by 2024, which were up 20% in 2023.

Due to a decline in demand for the company’s plug-in vehicles and resistance from certain dealers towards the expensive infrastructure upgrades required to sell them, Ford has trimmed back some of its electric vehicle (EV) plans. The business announced that it would postpone $12 billion in planned investments, which included a Kentucky battery factory.

- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply