Ford Scales Back EV Timelines, Turns to Hybrids to Fill the Gap

Ford

Ford announced a “retiming” of several of its key EV timelines yesterday. Among the affected are a new electric truck, a three-row electric SUV, and a few key plants, which are either in the process of re-tooling or are being constructed.

In Ford’s announcement, the automaker said the changes would “support the development of a differentiated and profitably growing EV business over time while Ford serves customers the right mix of gas, hybrid, and electric vehicles based on demand today.” That last bit is a big deal, because we’ve seen EV demand slow as customers remain skeptical of or uninterested in costly all-electric vehicles, with confusion around the EV tax credit offered by the Clean Vehicle Credit only serving to compound matters.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition
Ford/Eric Perry

(It is worth noting, however, that EV sales are still climbing year over year. In 2023, EV sales were up 50 percent from 2022, but that fell quite short of the 70 percent figure the industry had forecasted.)

Within the wordy announcement, a few key nuggets stick out: First, Ford noted that it would expand its hybrid offerings, saying that by the end of the decade, it planned to offer hybrid powertrains across the entire Ford Blue lineup in North America. Ford Blue, for folks who don’t swim in these waters every day, is the automaker’s business unit in charge of gasoline-powered vehicles and is the counterpart to Ford Model e, the parallel business spearheading the Blue Oval’s electric efforts.

Construction at Ford’s Blue Oval City Plant in Tennessee has been “retimed,” from late 2025 to 2026, though work there won’t stop entirely in the interim. Installation of nearly 4000 tons of stamping equipment is already underway and will press on.

Ford BlueOval City
Ford

Across the border, in Canada, Ford is also delaying production of a three-row, all-electric SUV from 2025 to 2027. Said vehicle is still slated to be built at the Oakville Assembly Plant, just quite a bit later than initially announced. The Oakville plant was responsible for the Lincoln Nautilus and the Ford Edge SUV, which ceases production at the end of this month.

Ford is still planning to convert the facility from a gasoline-vehicle assembly plant to an EV assembly plant beginning in the second quarter of this year, but with actual start of production now much delayed, Unifor, the union organization representing workers at the Oakville plant, is not pleased.

“Unifor is extremely disappointed by the company’s decision. Our members have done nothing but build best-in-class vehicles for Ford Motor Company and they deserve certainty in the company’s future production plans,” said Unifor national president Lana Payne in a statement on the group’s website. “I want to be very clear here. Our members can be assured that we will push the company to explore every single possible opportunity to lessen the impact of this decision on them and their families.”

Meanwhile, Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant is still on track to build a new commercial EV, with tooling installation set to begin in 2025. Previously, Ford had said the vehicle in question would come “mid-decade,” so that timeline still tracks.

Rouge Electric Vehicle Center ford f-150 lightning building manufacturing plant price cut cost
Ford

All of these delays come roughly six months after Ford declared that it would hit the brakes on around $12 billion in planned EV spending and slash production of key vehicles like the F-150 Lightning, another sign that things weren’t quite progressing as expected.

If this shift in strategy (which is probably putting it generously) sounds familiar, recall that General Motors announced that it would do the same thing earlier this year. In January, GM CEO Mary Barra announced the company would pivot back to hybrids, specifically of the plug-in type.

With the passing of the EPA’s new emissions regulations last week, automakers have been forced to re-examine product mixes to achieve harsher tailpipe emissions targets in the nearer future. It helps explain why hybrids are popping back up in product plans throughout the industry.

The pivots from Ford and GM are a bit of a black eye for an industry that may have overplayed its hand in the uncommon economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, by ultra-low interest rates, and by the ensnarled supply chains of the early 2020s.

“I don’t have a lot of patience for us getting the forecast wrong,” Marin Gjaja, chief operating officer of Ford’s Model e EV division, recently told The Detroit News, “but the reality is we all sort of got it wrong.”

Although it’s safe to say that the manufacturers may have been overly optimistic, these shifts probably aren’t worth going all Chicken Little over when it comes to the EV market. As many analysts and executives have noted, there were always going to be bumps along the way.

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Comments

    Ford needed this. They just did not have the money yet yo finish their EV program. The Mach E and Lighting were not part of their future programs. They were more PR and market tests.

    But the Hybrids are still not the answer.

    There Are No Chargers.
    EV’s have ZERO chance of mass market success without chargers literally everywhere, and they are not being built. Has Ford or GM built a single charger? No, there is no effort on their part to build a charging network. The market for high priced, short range vehicles that can’t be charged away from home, and with lousy resale value, is limited. This is what consumers have come to understand.

    During that cold spell we had in the Detroit area I saw on the local news electric car owners being interviewed. They all complained their EV were very low on their charges. They drove to public chargers and some were not working and they were lined up to use the ones that were working. All were late for work. Everyone they interviewed said, “I am getting an gasoline car as soon as possible!”

    Look as the cars increase the chargers will increase. The real problem is if you commit to mass chargers now and a new battery arrives next year and requires a new charger are you going to loose million invested.

    Second most people will charge at home.

    The real issue was Covid stopped the lowering of batter body and slowed development.

    The real pro Ken is we still need a cheaper battery that charges faster. Once we figure out how to charge in a similar home to fill fuel that will be the tipping point as long as it is affordable.

    You cannot put a time on this nor should the government force people to buy products that are worse and more expensive. .

    I already had to replace an 8 year old refrigerator due to failure of its high efficiency compressor. The repairman would not even touch it.

    We as voters need to vote for our needs and not sone parties propaganda to activist. The Economics and security are more at risk than our air.

    A charger is two things: the charger itself with associated plug and voltage output, and more significantly the enormous transformer tapped to overhead power lines with the KVA capacity to fully power the charger. The charger itself is a negligible cost compared to availability of power. Imagine a residential house with a 200A service. At 80% rating that’s 38.4kW total. That limits how fast you can charge your car regardless of the charger itself. The infrastructure is the problem, not the actual charger, which will be periodically replaced or upgraded. And right now most chargers are proving to be dismal failures in terms of reliability and accessibility. The sooner they are replaced with something universal and standardized, the better. As far as “they will come”, you still can’t buy an EV now while holding your breath waiting for chargers to magically appear. And if an EV is only good for 80-90% of your needs, that’s not good enough for a person with only one car.

    Hey buddy, try and proof read your remarks before posting! Makes your comments less valid, at least to me they are. Hybrids, especially PHEV models are the perfect solution for this interim time in the automotive industry. Until lighter and probably cheaper batteries with more range become available, EVs are just for the wealthy early adopters that feel the need to be the first on their block to have the latest whatever. The masses that live in apartments which won’t likely have HOME chargers to charge up their cars overnight are NOT served by EVs at all and may never be. Who wants to add hours and hours to their road trip to stop every 200-300 miles to charge up? And public chargers are capped or limited to charging only UP TO 80% so you just lost 20% of driving range as of your first recharge. Illogical to people who have any common sense. Figure it out in advance or learn the hard way!

    EV technology has not advanced to the point where the bulk of consumers see any advantage to changing from ICE powered vehicles. Hybrids are the right solution until batteries improve and the charging network is built out. Toyota has understood this all along.

    Hybrids are just a scam. The automakers want to sell them as they give them limited immunity from the EPA.

    They will charge you more for them. They cost you more to maintain them. If the battery is in poor condition it will cost you a major repair or resale.

    People fail to clean the cooling fan filter and these batteries to hell before the car is done. Even a Prius battery is about $5k with labor per the Toyota video I just watched. The early cars had no filters and clogged. .

    The truth is Toyota did not want yo commit that much to the EV program. They have been trying to get the government to cut them a break.

    Unless the CARB regulated states set aside the ICE ban 40 plus percent of the market will be cut off from hybrids. Automakers will need EV there.

    Assuming that you believe that global warming is happening and is anthropogenic then it follows that our goal should be to reduce our carbon footprint. For the transportation sector this means EVs. The technology isn’t there yet though, and EVs are heavy, expensive, and slow and inconvenient to charge. Hybrids, or more specifically plug-in hybrids, are not a scam, they’re an attempt to provide some carbon emission reduction while avoiding the biggest shortcomings of the current generation of EVs. PHEVs with useful electric-only range eliminate carbon emissions for most shorter urban trips but still have the range of ICE vehicles. They are therefore more likely to be accepted by most consumers which makes them a good interim step until EVs improve.

    Hybrids are not a scam. They’re an attempt to provide some of the benefits of EVs while avoiding their biggest drawbacks. A PHEV with a useful electric-only range avoids carbon emissions for most shorter urban trips but still provides the range of an ICE-powered vehicle. They are therefore more likely to be accepted by most consumers which makes them a good interim step until EVs improve.

    Hybrids solves nothing for ICE Bans. They make little impact on the environment. They provide little saving, highway mileage is nothing great.

    If you want to make yourself feel good I suppose that is true.

    You see a glass Alf full I see it half empty.

    10 billion in the last 4 years in all aspects of battery and platform development. All this while still investing in ICE. In just the last two years not counting the previous years of investment.

    hyper, You Are Way Off Base! There are plenty of Prius’s running around getting 50 mpg or better Replacement batteries are around 3,000. Yes the newer ones might be more but the newer ones including Camrys, Corollas and Prius cars are getting 50-60 Mpg! They have decent power and Toyotas are Very reliable. Yes they cost more, But you buy one for the long term, not to trade off every other year.

    It’s about time Ford got serious about hybrids.
    My wife needed a hybrid compact premium SUV…Lincoln did not make one…why not dress up the Escape?
    Lincoln is trying so hard NOT TO BE FORD, they are doing stupid stuff.
    And over charging for what they do make.
    She bought a Lexus despite the stupid grille.

    This EV rhetoric and the myopic urgency to transition away from ICE vehicles is in stark contrast to the very popular, ubiquitous and powerful pickup trucks I see literally everywhere. The goal should be to reduce carbon emissions, not promote one particular technological solution. This goal should be viewed and pursued in an overall context of achieving the best overall result with the least effort and cost. EV’s certainly have their strengths but they also have myriad weaknesses. There is no one size fits all solution.

    I read a forum and EV owners were complaining that if they run “climate control” in their EV their range goes down significantly. That’s fun. I’m cool with EV’s but the govt. should limit their size and power in an effort to force maximum range and efficiency… you know, to use less electricity. Your 6,000 pound 650 equivalent horsepower EV doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you care about the environment.

    John, you are one of the few that really understands what is going on in terms of EV’s vs ICE and what really matters. If manufacturers just keep up with the race to have the fasted EV’s just like the ridiculous muscle car rebirth and HP escalation for no reason, then our environment will be no better off just as you say. The elephant in the room is the weight of the EV battery packs. Toyota bucked the trend and took heat for pushing for more hybrids rather than going ALL-IN for EVs. The PHEV hybrids are the most sensible for this interim time where you can drive on ELECTRIC power only on short around-town trips up to 40 miles before the ICE engine even kicks in. 90% of people’s driving falls into that range, and when you need the vehicle to go on a longer road trip, you still have the security and range of the gasoline engine. How hard is it for people to understand that a PHEV hybrid is the perfect solution for right now! There are still NOT enough chargers and they take too long to charge up to a max of 80% so when on the road you are already at a 20% deficit in range even if you started out with a 100% charge on your home charger.

    If anyone thinks hybrids are a scam, I have some ocean-front property in Yankton, South Dakota that I would love to sell you.

    Now if Ford had not cancelled all cars it made minus the Mustang for a crossover/suv/truck lineup they would be positioned to sell some cars now.

    It seems to me that there is going to be a big market for new parts for old cars as our country descends into the Cuban model for transportation.

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