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
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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