Ford Is Designing A Low-Cost EV Platform To Battle The Tesla Model 3

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Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed today in an earnings call that a previously-unknown “skunkworks team” has been working on development of a new EV platform. This team — which Farley said operated as a “startup” outside of the traditional company structure for the past two years — focused on developing a low-cost electric platform. This new flexible platform is going to be the basis for several upcoming vehicles.

While specifics of these new vehicles are vague, Farley noted this platform’s main goal is low cost. He noted that EV buyers, once sold on electrification, remain loyal to EVs, but up-front expenses have made the transition slower than initially expected. The new platform, Farley explained, is intended to combat “affordable Teslas and Chinese OEMs”, which he sees as the ultimate competitors in the EV market.

This comes at a time when Tesla’s Model Y undercuts Ford’s Mustang Mach-E by several thousand dollars, and Tesla’s cheapest vehicle — the Model 3 sedan — is cheaper by almost $8,000. Despite being some of Ford’s more expensive vehicles, the company has not turned a profit on them, instead losing $4.7 billion dollars on EVs in 2023. This means the new skunkworks-developed platform will focus on profit from any angle.

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To this end, Farley noted the new platform will be “a large install base for software and services.” Specific services were not mentioned, but currently, Ford offers its hands-free driving system, BlueCruise, for $75 a month. Ford Pro — the company’s fleet and work-focused truck division — saw almost 50% growth in 2023 in software subscriptions (for things such as vehicle telematics and charging patterns), and Ford executives stress that subscriptions are high-profit. It’s possible this new generation of EVs coming in 2026 — which company officials have said need to be profitable, unlike the current generation thus far  — will branch out and offer more subscriptions. That could be bad news for those of you who want to pay for your heated seats once.

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