FORD ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Ford, the second-biggest seller of plug-in electric vehicles in the USA up to now has not invested in its EV platform from scratch, instead of buying in technology. Up to 2015 this strategy served the company well as its saved funds and learned from others mistakes, this strategy is however not a long-term solution as it falls further behind on the innovation curve. Forced to rethink its position on mobility and electric vehicles it committed to investing $4.5 billion in the technology by 2020. The funds will go towards developing 13 new electric vehicles, including a new generation of the Focus model with a range of 100miles plus.
On the mobility front, the company is deploying some autonomous vehicles in the USA for testing purposes. The Company’s autonomous pilot car’s sport’s next-generation sensors from Velodyne. The company is also implementing other technology upgrades such as pairing its SYNC in-car platform with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa services and Wink home automation system. The Company is also expanding its GoDrive car sharing program.
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FORD ELECTRIC CARS IN THE NEWS
2018 Week 32 - Ford and JMC to electrify the Ford Territory
Ford and JMC are reportedly working on an entry-level crossover, the Ford Territory which will be available in three powertrains which include a plug-in hybrid version. Ford’s lack of a clear EV strategy in 2017 contributed to the company experiencing month on month sales declines this year as its competitors provided an ever-increasing amount of electrified options to consumers. The Ford Territory will compete with EVs such as the BAIC EX series, Changan CS15, Yudo π 1 Pro, and Chery Tiggo 3xe.
2018 Week 30 - Ford creates standalone company for self-driving
Ford creates Ford Autonomous Vehicle LLC, a standalone company for its self-driving efforts. The formation of the company is structured so that third-party partners could take a stake in the shareholding. Ford is to invest $4 billion over the next 5-years in its AV efforts which includes an investment of $1 billion in Argo AI, the Pittsburgh autonomous system developer. Sherif Marakby will move from his position as VP Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification to head up the new company based in Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit. The USA automaker will keep its electrification program, Team Edison, in-house. Ford Autonomous Vehicle LLC will focus on aligning its self-driving and mobility efforts to faster develop businesses in the fast-changing auto sector.
2018 Week 24 - Ford suspends Fuel Cell JV
Now that the shift towards electric mobility is gathering pace automakers are forced to rethink their fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) strategy. Reuters reported this week that the Canadian JV between Daimler and Ford for the development of automotive fuel cell technology, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp, based in Burnaby, British Columbia would be terminated this summer. Both companies will take their FCEV research in-house. Only a few automakers have extensive fuel cell strategies, Toyota being the most prominent, doubling down on efforts to mass produce FCEVs. Honda and GM are still collaborating on the development of FCEV technologies.
2018 Week 19 - Ford struggles in China
I reported last week on the EV JV between FORD and Zotye, one of the top-selling EV brands in China during 2016. Zotye announced this week that it would stop producing electric vehicles, shifting all the EV business to the new Ford JV company. Zotye will from now on only focus its EV related efforts to R&D, manufacturing, and marketing of EV components. It was not immediately clear if existing models such as the Zotye SR7 Compact SUV, E20 and Cloud 100 will be moved to the JV or discontinued. Zotye sold over 70,000 EV between 2016 and 2017 but sales tapered off with the company recording less than 3,000 units sold for the first three months of 2018. The slide can be attributed to the company not keeping track with competitors moving into the A0 class segment, once dominated by Zotye.
In related news, FORD seems to be victim number one of the escalating trade war between China and the USA. The automaker reported a sales drop of 26% YoY as its vehicle shipments are delayed in Chinese ports. The 26% figure is across all of FORD’s JVs while Changan Ford reported the highest slide, 38%. Ford’s lack of electric vehicles can partly be attributed to the loss in market share as passenger sedan sales dropped on a month-on-month basis in China for the second consecutive month while EV sales continue to expand.
2018 Week 18 - Ford and Zotye formalizes EV JV
Last week Ford caused a minor stir when the company announced that it would stop producing passenger cars, except for the Focus and Mustang. This means that the Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion will be discontinued, although no specific timing has been given for the move. The strategy shift is part of the company’s realignment to focus on electric vehicles and the profitable SUV and Crossover segment. The automaker announced that it would shift one-third of its budget to electric vehicles.
Part of Ford’s strategy to make up for lost ground is to create partnerships in China and India while also shifting to mobility solutions. This week Ford Smart Mobility LLC and Chinese automaker Zotye signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a joint venture (JV) to provide smart, customized all-electric vehicle solutions to fleet operators and drivers in China’s fast-growing ride-hailing market.
Many operators in China’s ride-hailing market are looking to expand their fleets with electric vehicles. According to Boston Consulting Group, the local ‘e-hailing’ market is expected to grow by 19 percent annually through 2022, with an overall fleet size potentially reaching up to 26 million.
This week Didi, the largest ride-hailing company in China announced that it would up its use of EVs from the current 250,000 to 10 million EVs in 2028.
As part of Ford’s commitment to building smart vehicles for a smart world, and to pave the way for a future of V2X and autonomous vehicles, the new JV will also engage with local governments and cities to support the development of integrated transportation solutions covering data connectivity and software systems to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and enhance the commuter experience.
2018 Week 11 - Ford trying to play catch-up
The disruption caused by electric vehicles is in few companies so evident as in Ford. The American icon has been grappling with how it should respond to the changing landscape and after a false start and a change at the top resulting in the company having no new EVs to show for the foreseeable future. The company this week revealed its latest strategy which will see it replace 75% of its line-up by 2020 with a stronger focus on SUVs and trucks. The company’s new battery electric line-up of six EVs by 2022 will roll out in 2020 and start with a utility vehicle with a range of 300 miles. Ford is rethinking the current ownership model of gas-powered vehicles by making charging an effortless experience at home and on the road as well as offering full-vehicle over-the-air software updates to enhance capability and features. Ford vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, Sherif Marakby, said “Throwing a charger in the trunk of a vehicle and sending customers on their way isn’t enough to help promote the viability of electric vehicles, in addition to expanding our electric vehicle lineup, we are redesigning the ownership experience to ensure it addresses customer pain points that currently hold back broad adoption today.”
2017 Week 50 - Ford EV strategy update
Ford announced that it is bringing its 220 strong strategy, EV and autonomous units closer to home by relocating them from Dearborn to Detroit early next year. The teams will be housed together in a new 45,000 square feet complex in the historic Factory building.
2017 Week 49 - Ford to develop 15 EV in China
China is considering altering its subsidy plan with EVs with a range below 150km not qualifying for the EV incentive. It will be interesting to see how foreign companies such as Ford adapt their EV strategies according to the new ruling. Ford this week announced that it would release 15 EVs in China by 2025. Ford who only have one EV in China, the Changan Ford Mondeo Energi with a range of 22 miles, does already not qualify for the current threshold of 32 miles.
2017 Week 46 - Ford registers trademark for self-driving off-road
FreshPatents.com reported that Ford Global Technology registered a patent for an off-road autonomous driving system. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) has granted Ford a patent for an off-road autonomous driving system. This could be handy functionality while farming or hunting. I can see a hunter call his truck to get him at a location after the hunt (if there is cell connectivity).
2017 Week 45 - Ford and Zotye formalizes partnership
In Week 40 Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett unpacked his plans to get the US carmaker back on track after an investor revolt led to his predecessor’s replacement. One of the pillars of his plan was leveraging partnerships, in particular with Zotye to develop a new line of low-cost all-electric passenger vehicles in China. This Week the two companies signed a definitive JV agreement for the formation of Zotye Ford Automobile Co. Ltd., a 50/50 partnership that will produce stylish yet affordable electric vehicles for the Chinese market. Zotye Ford is yet to announce the new brand for the JV’s strategy. The joint venture will require an initial investment of 5 billion RMB (~$750 million) which will be utilized to establish a manufacturing facility in Zhejiang Province. The JV is Ford’s 3rd in China and will include exploring innovative and connected mobility services. Ford’s other Chinese JV’s are with Changan and JMC.
2017 Week 44- Ford in partnership to test C-V2X technology
Ford, AT&T, Nokia and chipmaker Qualcomm partnered around developing C-V2X (cellular vehicle to everything) technology for commercial deployment in 2020. The partnership will commence testing at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground and aims to demonstrate the cost-efficient benefits associated with embedded cellular technology in vehicles and synergies between the deployment of cellular base stations and roadside infrastructure to improve safety and driving efficiency.
2017 Week 40- Ford unveils strategy shift to catch-up on EV market
Ford‘s new CEO, Jim Hackett this week came out with a complete strategy shift, rethinking its predecessors One Ford strategy in a bid to play catchup on its competitors in the electric vehicle market. The shift aims to reduce cost by $14 billion, leverage partnerships and invest in EVs and trucks. The highlights from the announcement as presented in the company’s press release are:
Accelerating the introduction of connected, smart vehicles and services customers want and value. By 2019, 100 percent of Ford’s new U.S. vehicles will be built with connectivity. The company has similarly aggressive plans for China and other markets, as 90 percent of Ford’s new global vehicles will feature connectivity by 2020.
Rapidly improving fitness to lower costs, release capital and finance growth. Ford is attacking costs, reducing automotive cost growth by 50 percent through 2022. As part of this, the company is targeting $10 billion in incremental material cost reductions. The team also is reducing engineering costs by $4 billion from planned levels over the next five years by increasing use of common parts across its full line of vehicles, reducing order complexity and building fewer prototypes.
Allocating capital where Ford can win the future. This starts with the company reallocating $7 billion of capital from cars to SUVs and trucks, including the Ranger and EcoSport in North America and the all-new Bronco globally. Ford also has plans to build the next-generation Focus for North America in China, saving capital investment and ongoing costs. Further, Ford is reducing internal combustion engine capital expenditures by one-third and redeploying that capital into electrification – on top of the previously announced $4.5 billion investment.
Embracing partnerships. Ford will continue to leverage partnerships, remain active in M&A and collaborate to accelerate R&D. The company recently announced it was exploring a strategic alliance with Mahindra Group as it transforms its business in India, and Zoyte with the intention of developing a new line of low-cost all-electric passenger vehicles in China. When it comes to autonomous vehicle development, the company recently announced a relationship with Lyft to work toward commercialization and a collaboration with Domino’s Pizza to research the customer experience of delivery services.
Expanding electric vehicle revenue opportunities. The company recently announced a dedicated electrification team within Ford, focused exclusively on creating an ecosystem of products and services for electric vehicles and the unique opportunities they provide. This builds on Ford’s earlier commitment to deliver 13 new electric vehicles in the next five years, including F-150 Hybrid, Mustang Hybrid, Transit Custom plug-in hybrid, an autonomous vehicle hybrid, Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, and a fully electric small SUV.
2017 Week 39- Ford and Lyft partner on self-driving tech
Following a recent announcement by Google that it would invest in Lyft another of Google’s autonomous partners, Ford announced that it would roll out self-driving cars on the ridesharing company’s network. Ford will test its self-driving cars equipped with the Argo AI virtual driver system on Lyft’s network. According to a blog post on Medium by Sherif Marakby, vice-president, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification at Ford the deployment would aim to:
- Create Ford’s technology platform so that it can easily connect with a partner’s platform to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle;
- Which cities should we work with to deliver our self-driving vehicle service;
- The kind of infrastructure required to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to ensure they are available whenever a consumer needs one?
2017 Week 38- Ford and Mahindra to partner on EV development in India
With an eye on India’s ambitions to be rid of combustion vehicles by 2030, Ford and Mahindra entered into a strategic partnership for the development and sourcing of electric vehicles, e-mobility solutions, and self-driving technology. The partnership will be for three years with the option of extending it. Executives from the two companies were quoted in a company press release as follows:
“Our two companies have a long history of cooperation and mutual respect. The memorandum of understanding we have signed today with Mahindra will allow us to work together to take advantage of the changes coming in the auto industry. The enormous growth potential in the utility market and the growing importance of mobility and affordable battery electric vehicles are all aligned with our strategic priorities.”
Dr. Pawan Goenka, managing director, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd elaborated: “The changes facing the automotive industry globally are triggered by the accelerated rise of new technologies, sustainability policies and new models of urban shared mobility. Given these changes we see the need to anticipate new market trends, explore alternatives and look for ways to collaborate even as we compete and build powerful synergies that will allow rapid exploitation of the exciting new opportunities. Today’s announcement builds on the foundation laid through our past partnership with Ford and will open opportunities for both of us.”
2017 Week 37- Ford updates its EV strategy
Ford announced that it will electrify all its Lincoln models by 2022 and also develop new all-electric models for its US marque brand.
2017 Week 34- Ford autonomous strategy unpact by new CEO
Ford‘s new CEO, Jim Hackett, previously the Chairman of the US automakers Smart Mobility unit, sees a slower transition to completely autonomous vehicles. In an interview with SFGate, Jim Hackett said that he does not see the company’s vehicle revenue threatened by a sudden shift to robot cars leading to fewer vehicle sales. Although the Ford CEO remained committed to a 2021 target by its predecessor for Level 4 ride hailing vehicles he sees a more a more progressive transition than a sudden shift. He added that Ford believes vehicles will become smarter, allowing it to tap more revenue streams from its 100 million “users.” Ford recently acquired SF based ride-sharing company, Chariot, and autonomous tech company, Argo AI, to ensure that it remains relevant going into the future. In line with its 2021 strategy Ford also announced this week that it would include commercial delivery vehicles in its self-driving offering by 2021.
2017 Week 34- Ford enter JVs in China to develop EVs
Ford and the Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye this week announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a 50/50 JV to develop electrified passenger vehicles in China. The JV is the second such JV announced by Ford, which is experiencing sales declines in the Chinese vehicle sector. The Detroit based company and another Chinese domestic JV partner, Changan, announced in April that they would offer PHEV and BEV versions of all the vehicles they manufacture by 2025.
2017 Week 33- Ford develops EV delivery vehicles for Deutsche Post
As the push for cleaner cities drives the EV revolution forward, we are seeing more and more electric delivery vans entering the marketplace. Gone are the days of an EV delivery van being associated with the defunct Azure Connect or the small Renault Twizy Cargo which hardly had enough space or range to cover the average daily distance for delivery vehicles of 65 miles. The past month has seen the introduction of production versions of the Daimler Fuso E-Cell and the new Renault Kangoo ZE. This week two more delivery vehicles made the front pages. Ford and Deutsche Post subsidiary, Street Scooter, this week introduced its first jointly produced E-Van, the StreetScooter Work XL in Cologne. The Work XL is based on the Ford Transit Van and has a load capacity of 20 cubic meters, a modular battery system that could be sized from 30kWh to 90kWh for a range of between 80km and 200km. The 22kW onboard charger allows for an average charging time of three hours. Each WORK XL could save around five tonnes of CO2 and 1,900 liters of diesel fuel each year. StreetScooter will assemble around 150 units by the end of 2017 at its Aachen plant and ramp up to 2,500 units by the end of 2018. The Deutsche Post DHL Group is the largest operator of electric vehicles in Germany with a fleet of 3,000 StreetScooter Work and Work L vans and 10,500 pedelecs.
2017 Week 25 - Self-Driving Ford Fusion showcased
2017 Week 19 - Ford CEO under fire for strategy
CNBC ran an article on the prediction by the US thinktank RethinkX that 95% of miles traveled will be in electric powered autonomous cars by 2030. The controversial prediction is way above that of Boston Consulting which predicted that only 25% of such trips would be in self-driving or shared vehicles. Looking at the website of Tony Seba, a co-author of the RethinkX study, “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries.” the report also predicts that only 20% of Americans will own cars by 2030.
The predicted shift in mobility leads into other news this week where Ford’s CEO was challenged on his strategy for the company, resulting in its performance lagging its competitors. Mark Fields, CEO since 2014, embarked on what is the auto sector icon’s biggest strategy shift in history by investing heavily in self-driving technology. The challenge for the Ford CEO’s strategy is that he has one foot in the future and one in the present, resulting in an earnings decline of 42%.
2017 Week 14 - Navigant Ranks Ford tops in self-driving cars
Navigant Research placed Ford and GM at the top of its autonomous driving leaderboard, surprisingly far above Waymo (7th), the pioneer of autonomous driving. Waymo was only listed as a contender, and Tesla who has already clocked over 300 million miles in Autopilot (Level 2 Autonomy) did not make the Top 10 list. Waymo, not aiming to develop a car, but rather focusing on autonomous technology has partnered with Chrysler and Ford on testing autonomous technology. Making Navigant’s findings even more surprising to us is that Waymo performed exceptionally well compared to other automakers on the list when comparing across all permit holders allowed to test autonomous tech on Californias public roads. According to CA DMV regulations, each permit holder must annually file a disengagement report, reflecting the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where the system fails. Waymo posted a record 0.2 disengagements per 1,000 miles in its 2016. For a breakdown of each permit holders testing in California read our recent blog providing detailed analysis.
Navigant’s criteria are based on the following ten factors; vision, go-to-market strategy, partners, production strategy, technology, sales, marketing, and distribution, product capability, product quality and reliability, product portfolio and staying power. The Top Ten on Navigant’s list are Ford, GM, Renault–Nissan Alliance, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, BMW, Waymo, Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity, Delphi and Hyundai Motor Group.
Despite Tesla aiming to have a market ready Level 5 autonomous product by the end of the year, it is only listed as a contender. Tesla is criticized by some, for being too aggressive, using its customers as guinea pigs for its AutoPilot software. Not surprising though is that Uber features on the bottom end of the list, the controversial ride-hailing company has been in the news lately for losing its right to test in San Francisco, being sued by Waymo and a crash in Tempe, Arizona, temporarily halting its pilot program.
2017 Week 14 - Tesla unseat Ford and GM in US Top 3 automaker list
In the same week where Ford was dethroned by GM as the USAs number two automaker, due to Tesla taking the top spot, the company released a new electric vehicle strategy for its Chinese operations. Ford, suffering from a shareholder revolt due to its lack of a convincing electric vehicle strategy and declining sales on Thursday announced that it targets 70% contribution from EV’s of its Chinese auto sales by 2025. The first phase of the strategy will be to produce a PHEV early 2018 together with its Chinese partner, Changan, also known as Chana. The company aims to have a small electric SUV within the next five years, capable of a battery electric range of 280 miles / 450km. The company still lacks a proper global electric vehicle strategy, and the current attempt is too little and too late.
2017 Week 9 - USA February EV sales, Ford in third place
February Electric Vehicle sales data released for the USA this week reveals some interesting talking points. Overall, February sales gained a further 13.4% in January 2017 and over 55% on year on year basis. Contributors to the increase came from a nearly doubling in sales of the Tesla Model S and continued demand for the new Toyota Prius Plus. Unfortunately, the Prius in our books hardly counts as an electric vehicle due to its underwhelming continued reliance on its combustion engine. Disappointingly, sales for the Chevrolet Bolt declined over 18% from January, bringing total sales for the four months to 3,272 units, far short if one takes that at a claimed 30,000 units per annum the Bolt should have sold 10,000 units during the four months. In the car maker standings, GM retained its lead with 2,776 units over Tesla’s 2,550 units with Ford taking third place with 1,704 units.
2017 Week 1 - Ford's 5 year plan for EV's announced
Ford’s electric vehicle program announced this week, although sounding impressive, falls short of delivering a punch for the sector. The company unveiled seven electrified models to reach the market in the next five years with a further six to follow. The automaker will also invest $700 million in upgrading their Michigan plant for electric and autonomous vehicle production, adding 700 direct new jobs. The press release clearly aims to impress President Donald Trump as the company also scuttled plans for a $1.6Bln plant in Mexico. The reason why we see Ford’s announcement as underwhelming is that the company is clearly just towing the line according to regulations since all the model’s bar one would be plug-in hybrid’s, a trend which has surely run its course. Die hard Ford enthusiast would be happy with PHEV versions of the Mustang, F-150, a hybrid autonomous model, two police vehicles and Transit Custom taxi/delivery van. The only Battery Electric Vehicle is a Small Utility with a range of 300 miles.
2016 Week 52 - Ford Debuts its Second Generation Autonomous Vehicle
Ford debuted its next-generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous development vehicle this week. The second generation of the vehicle sports more production ready controls and LiDar sensors on top of an improved computer hardware platform. Improved field of vision on the sensors allowed Ford to have only two sensors as opposed to four in the first generation. The second generation follows the first, introduced three years ago. The company aims to have an SAE Level 4-capable vehicle commercially available by 2021 for ride-hailing and sharing purposes. Ford will also expand its test fleet, currently operational only in California to its home state, Michigan.
2016 Week 51 - Uber remains with Ford self-driving pilot after being booted from San Francisco
This week Uber was forced to cancel its self-driving pilot in San Francisco, its hometown. Although regulators are in possession of footage showing an Uber pilot vehicle running a red light, barely missing a pedestrian, a claim the company contest that it was driver error and not the software, the ultimate decision was based on the company not following proper permitting procedures. Although the Californian DMV offered Uber assistance and a clear road to permitting the company and State could not agree on workable rules around Uber’s demand for its technology to be classified as SAE Level 3 automation. It is not the end of Uber’s efforts though as it is piloting retrofitted Volvo XC90 SUV’s and Ford Focus vehicles in Pittsburgh.
2016 Week 38 - Strategy, Paris Auto Show
The financial blog, the Motley Fool reported earlier this month on a recent investor day by Ford on its Electric Vehicle strategy. The strategy essentially boils down to the company wanting to become a leader in the sector by bringing electric drivetrains for its most profitable and popular models, which would then allow its expertise to benefit the rest of its product range. The strategy will include plug-in versions for its SUV’s, Pick-ups and Crossovers. The company identified 2030 as the tipping point for electric vehicles leading over combustion vehicles.
2. The highly anticipated Paris Auto Show starts this week, and the event is expected to deliver some huge announcements for the electric vehicle market. We have reported earlier on Mercedes’s expected launch of an all-electric sub-brand, which includes the introduction of a plug-in pick-up, and BMW‘s executive not attending the event to trash out is electric vehicle strategy. Other brands to watch include VW‘s hyped-up mass market EV with a range of over 300miles expected in 2020, Porche’s new Panamera PHEV and Citroen‘s new Experience concept car. Various company’s such as Ford and Rolls Royce will not attend the smaller than usual event.
2016 Week 33 - Autonomous vehicle
Ford this week announced its plans to be a leader in the autonomous vehicle segment. The company aims to produce high volumes of autonomous vehicles for the car-sharing purposes by 2021. To enable the company to reach its goal it has partnered with four startups on autonomous vehicle development, and increased its Silicon Valley team two-fold and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
2016 Week 30 - India
Ford USA vetoed Ford India’s decision to participate in a consortium to facilitate the electric vehicle sector in the Indian market. The remaining consortium members, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra, and Tata Motors now have to delay the launch of the project to create a supplier base for the sector. The reason cited by Ford USA is that it sees the project as not being financially viable.
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