According to InsideEVs, Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed on February 6th that a small team at Ford has been secretly working for the past two years to develop a low-cost platform for small electric vehicles.
“We made a bet, two years ago,” Farley told investors during the company’s fourth-quarter and full year 2023 financial results conference call, sharing the establishment of a “small group of talented employees” working independently outside of Ford to develop the project.
Farley said, “They have developed a flexible platform that not only scales for different vehicles, but it is really important for software and services as well.” He added that Ford is shifting its investments to focus more on small electric vehicles.
Price is one of the main barriers preventing consumers from purchasing more electric cars and preventing automakers from selling them in larger quantities. Today, most electric cars come with a high price tag, leaving budget-conscious buyers with very few options below $30,000.
Currently, Ford does not have a “cheap” electric vehicle. The Mustang Mach-E SUV starts around $43,000, while the base model of the F-150 Lightning pickup truck is priced at over $55,000.
Having vehicles with a wider and longer range will cost consumers more money. However, Ford’s electric vehicle business has not been profitable during this time. (The e-Mobility division, which focuses on electric vehicles and related technologies, incurred a loss of $4.7 billion in 2023.)
The low-cost segment is a newly emerging battlefield in the electric vehicle market. For years, Tesla has been planning to produce a $25,000 electric car.
In January, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company’s next-generation, affordable vehicle platform will start production in 2025.
According to Jim Farley, cost-cutting will be crucial to compete with both Tesla’s upcoming models and Chinese automakers, who are starting to export electric vehicles globally and may enter the US market in the near future.
He said, “All of our electric vehicle development teams are laser-focused on cost and efficiency with products because ultimately Ford’s toughest competition will be the affordable price of Tesla and OEMs coming out of China.”