Ford creates 'Team Edison' to speed up EV development

Ford won't to walk away from small cars in the USA, as FCA has done, but it will pursue more-profitable niche segments, such as sportier versions of the Focus, executives said.

Hackett's strategy also called for Ford to further transform into a mobility company rather than one focused exclusively on producing cars. That is, boosting its investments in high-profit trucks and SUVs while de-emphasizing cars, and accelerating development of electric and autonomous vehicles while scaling back on improvements in internal-combustion engines that have become the auto industry's endangered species these days. The department is so new that nothing has yet come out of it, but Ford hopes that "Team Edison" can identify and develop electric vehicle partnerships with suppliers and other companies in global markets.

"When you're a long-lived company that has had success over multiple decades the decision to change is not easy - culturally or operationally", Hackett said Tuesday in a news release. "I think we don't need to cross a threshold that will devastate company's profitability", he noted, noting that company's product range would take up to 30 per cent of electric vehicles by 2030.

"The world's impression of Ford is that they are behind on a lot of these technologies", Emmanuel Rosner, an analyst with Guggenheim Partners, said in an interview. The plan included a few tangibles - $14 billion in cost cuts and a $7 billion shift in spending away from passenger cars - but not enough specifics for investors to grasp how, exactly, the century-old carmaker plans to navigate the new mobility landscape.

Ford's shares rose 2 percent to close at $12.34 Tuesday before Hackett's presentation. The company plans to share more parts between vehicles and reduce the options available for configuring a auto.

Though its revenue has germinated since the Great Recession so have the costs engendering Dearborn, Mich. -based automaker to omit its goal of an 8 percent automotive operating margin.

That notion was reinforced Monday when Ford's crosstown rival GM - which already sells the long-range electric Chevy Bolt - announced plans to have 20 battery-powered cars on the road by 2023.

This reiterates Ford's pledge that it will introduce 13 new electric models, including hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup and Mustang, in the next five years. Some aspects have dripped out in recent months-axing certain models, cutting costs-but this is a clear-cut official line of what to expect from Ford in the coming years.

At the same time, development costs are on the chopping block.

  • Eleanor Harrison