Evoking a phrase from Ford's storied racing history, executive chairman Bill Ford told a Detroit business luncheon that as the company moves forward with its substantial push into electric vehicles, performance will be a major focus. The great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford doesn't want to make boring electric cars.
Automotive News reports that Ford made his remarks while receiving the Newsmaker of the Year award from Crain's Detroit Business magazine. Describing the upcoming pure battery-electric crossover that the company says is inspired by the Mustang, Ford told the crowd that the new CUV “is going to go like hell.”
“Go like hell” was the directive Henry Ford II, Bill Ford's uncle, gave the team that he created to take on Ferrari at Le Mans in the 1960s. Ford cars eventually won at Le Mans four years in a row, forever ending Ferrari's dominance there.
The use of the phrase is not a coincidence. In 2019 Ford will likely get some publicity from the theatrical release of a major motion picture, about Ford vs. Ferrari at Le Mans. The film will star Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as racer Ken Miles. The movie has been tentatively titled Go Like Hell, after the A.J. Baime book of the same name.
In 2017, Ford announced a $11.1 billion investment in a dedicated EV business unit called Team Edison. The plan is to introduce 16 production battery-electric and another two dozen plug-in hybrid vehicles to Ford's global portfolio by 2022. Team Edison will be located in the new campus Ford is building in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood; the automaker is investing $740 million to renovate the formerly abandoned Michigan Central Station train depot.
As electric vehicles become more mainstream, Ford is trying to change the image surrounding such products. “When we first started talking about electrification, there was this thought that there had to be a trade-off: It was either going to be green and boring and no fun, or really exciting but burn a lot of fossil fuels,” Ford told the crowd. “Electrification has come to the point that you can do both.”
Automotive News reported that Team Edison will handle development and production of the EV. How that will be coordinated with Ford's traditional manufacturing engineering teams, based in Dearborn, has not been disclosed.
In addition to its Edison-driven EVs, Ford is also working on electrifying its lineup with hybrids, including the Mustang. When the Mustang migrates to a new platform for 2021, shared with the new Explorer, it is expected that Ford will introduce a hybrid model, potentially with all-wheel drive.
In Ford’s remarks he also suggested that the Volkswagen group—with which FoMoCo recently announced a global alliance that will include autonomous and EV vehicle development—may end up renting space in the former train station, along with suppliers, tech startups, and software developers.