Revenge of the Model E—Ford spins off its electric vehicles into a separate business unit
For some reason, automakers often seem to choose names that we pundits dislike. “Stellantis” sounds more like a prescription medication than a car company, and Chevrolet’s Bolt could be, and often was, confused with the same company’s Volt. (Could better names have saved these ill-fated vehicles?)
Above: A look inside Ford's new electric F-150 Lightning (Source: Ford)
Ford’s plan to spin off its electric vehicles into a separate business unit is an excellent idea. There are pro-EV and anti-EV factions at every automaker, and the electron experts will surely be able to move faster (as they badly need to) without the petrol-heads holding them back.
However, Ford’s decision to name its new EV division “Model e” seems a little weird, because of a historical association with a certain California-born carmaker. Tesla originally wanted to call its third-generation vehicle Model E, so that its product lineup would spell S-E-X (always a good thing to invoke when selling cars), but Ford already held the trademark, so the young automaker named its new vehicle Model 3 instead.
Did Ford refuse to release the trademarked name Model E to Tesla back in 2016 because it was already planning to use the name for a future EV division? Highly unlikely. In those days, Ford was probably more interested in selling ball caps than electric cars. But the times they are a-changing, and quickly.
Under the so-called Ford+ plan, the two new business units—Ford Model e for EVs and Ford Blue for ICEs—will remain under the Ford corporate umbrella, but will “share relevant technology and best practices to leverage scale and drive operating improvements.” The arrangement appears to be similar to the way the company operates its existing Ford Pro commercial business. Ford expects to start reporting separate financial results for the three units by 2023.
Ford says the reorganization will involve an additional $10 to $20 billion investment over the next 10 years.
Above: A look at Ford's EV investment (YouTube: Ford Motor Company)
According to the company, the Ford+ strategy “creates distinct electric vehicle and internal combustion businesses poised to compete and win against both new EV competitors and established automakers,” and “organizes Ford to deliver for customers with the focus and speed of a startup at the leading edge of technology, supported by deep expertise in engineering and high-volume production.”
Ford expects to be producing more than two million EVs per year by 2026, and expects EVs to represent half of global sales volume by 2030. (As Electrek’s Fred Lambert quipped, one may well wonder who’s expected to be buying the other half.)
Jim Farley remains CEO of Ford, and will become President of the Model e division. “We have made tremendous progress in a short period of time,” quoth he. “We have launched a series of hit products globally, and demand for our new EVs like F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E is off the charts. But our ambition with Ford+ is to become a truly great, world-changing company again, and that requires focus. We are going all in, creating separate but complementary businesses that give us startup speed and unbridled innovation in Ford Model e together with Ford Blue’s industrial know-how, volume and iconic brands like Bronco, that startups can only dream about.”
Doug Field, a former Tesla engineering executive, will lead Ford Model e’s product creation as Chief EV and Digital Systems Officer.
“Designing truly incredible electric and software-driven vehicles with experiences customers can’t even imagine yet requires a clean-sheet approach,” said Field. “We are creating an organization that benefits from all of Ford’s know-how and capabilities, but that can move with speed and unconstrained ambition to create revolutionary new products.”