Among Detroit car makers,
took an early lead in electric-vehicle buzz, but
has won where it counts: putting winning models in customer driveways. Credit CEO Jim Farley, 60, with persuading his predecessor, Jim Hackett, to turn Ford’s EV program away from economy models nearly four years ago. “We basically started with a Prius-type vehicle or a Volt or a Bolt or a Leaf or whatever,” says Farley. “I just wasn’t happy.”
Instead, Ford focused on its best-selling sports car, pickup, and transit van. “We had no idea we would be first in terms of scaling,” Farley says of the F-150 Lightning. “We worked really hard as a challenger team.”
The company’s first battery-range estimate was around 125 miles. It ended up at 320 on some trim levels. The team did not come up with Pro Power Onboard, which can use vehicle electricity to run work-site tools, until a year before launch. Yet the Lightning, like the Mustang Mach-E crossover and E-Transit van, launched to glowing reviews. Farley said in November that he would make the company No. 2 in EVs behind
within two years. He’s already there.
Gasoline vehicles will lead sales for years longer. But Farley says rapid EV uptake in Europe and China is a sign of what’s coming to the US, and that his second generation of EVs will have “dramatically simpler manufacturing” than the first. The transition isn’t primarily about eliminating emissions, Farley says. “The most important thing is that we finally made a digital product.”
Write to Jack Hough at email@example.com