Ford Establishes Team Edison to Ignite Critical EV Strategy

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【Summary】For investors, this is a strong signal that Ford will not be left out of the EV race. Funding for its EV projects are flowing, which is expected to reach $4.5 billion over the next half decade.

  Michael Cheng  ·  Oct 10, 2017 7:59 AM PT
author: Michael Cheng   

Ford's efforts to spearhead the EV industry have been staggeringly ineffective, as other automakers shift pace through increased funding (Tesla and Daimler have announced billion-dollar investments in EVs) and powerful partnerships with tech companies.

Under the watchful eye of Sherif Marakby (VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification at Ford) and new Ford CEO Jim Hackett, the Dearborn, Michigan-based business is now ready to close the gap. Facilitating this move is Team Edison – a group tasked to keep the establishment's EV goals on track, ultimately ensuring decisions are made quickly and holistically.

New Measures for Critical Times

The internal team's activities are separate from the company's other projects related to hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. For investors, this is a strong signal that Ford will not be left out of the EV race. Funding for its EV projects are flowing, which is expected to reach $4.5 billion over the next half decade. It is important to highlight that other auto manufacturers, such as Daimler, have pledge double that amount on EV technology, in the range of $10 billion.

"We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles," explained Marakby, during an interview with Automotive News. "We feel it's important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing."

Recently, Marakby revealed details surrounding Ford's new strategy. In addition to new funding, the business will make some large budget cuts. Specifically, it will reduce spending in product engineering ($4 billion) and material sourcing ($10 billion) in the next five years (total of $14 billion).

Such cost cuts will result in less available combinations of colors and customizable options. For instance, at the moment, the Ford Fusion Sedan is offered in 35,000 different combinations. By 2020, the number of combinations will be reduced to 96.

Ford will also decrease spending on internal-combustion engines, by up to $500 million (33.3 percent) within the next five years.  

"Spending on internal combustion engines will be cut by a third, or around $500 million, by 2022, with that sum being added to the $4.5 billion that Ford had previously committed to hybrid and electric-vehicle development," said John Rosevear from TMF.

EV Lineup Coming Soon

The end-goal of Team Edison is the successful release of Ford EVs to consumers. The business intends to offer 13 new EVs by 2022, with one of those units being a 300-mile range crossover. According to Hackett, the company's lineup will consist of 66 percent EVs (and 33 percent internal-combustion engine powered cars) by 2030.

For expansion in global markets, Ford will supplement its efforts with partnerships. This year, the business has been in talks with Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye Automobile for an EV manufacturing deal in the region.

This suggests the company is taking a very close look at the Chinese EV sector. Interestingly, competition in the area is heating up, as Ford will be facing both local EV brands and international automotive businesses, including GM, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen (just to name a few).

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