Ford Quietly Established Team to Create Low-Cost EVs

Ford Motor Company has quietly established a team to develop affordable battery electric cars for the company. Launched two years ago, the “skunkwork lab” comprises engineers from an energy-management startup Ford acquired in 2023 called Auto Motive Power (AMP) and is led by Alan Clarke, an ex-Tesla employee and current executive director of EV development at Ford.

According to Ford CEO Jim Farley, the automaker formed the small “super-talented” team with little fanfare two years ago and tasked it with developing a low-cost, electric-vehicle platform. Farley says Ford tapped the best engineers on the globe for the low-cost EV project and said the group was so separated from Ford that it was essentially a startup.

The CEO made a minor reference to the low-cost, EV-development team during Ford’s fourth-quarter earnings call. Based in Irvine, California, the research team is developing a third-generation electric vehicle. However, a spokesperson from Ford declined to provide further details on the EV project or its timeline.

Ford’s commercial services unit says the team has developed a “flexible platfor” that can be deployed to several types of EVs and allow the installation of software and services. Much like every other major automaker, Ford is desperately working to develop a low-cost electric vehicle for the market.

Most governments are keen on cutting carbon emissions as part of global climate-change remediation efforts. As such, electric cars are poised to become a major form of vehicular transportation over the next couple of decades because they produce minimal to zero tailpipe emissions.

However, high development costs have made electric vehicles far too expensive for the average consumer, even with state subsidies. Recent declines in electric-vehicle demand, partly due to high prices and rising interest rates, have also forced many automakers to rethink their ambitious electrification strategies and cut their EV investments.

Many automakers have now scaled back their electrification plans to reflect the new EV market. Ford paused the construction of a $3.5 billion electric-vehicle factory in Michigan and announced a rollback of its $50 billion product expansion plans. Farley said the company is adjusting its capital and switching onto to smaller electric-vehicle products. He said Ford made the low-cost EV bet in silence and contracted some of the best engineers on the globe to develop a next-gen, flexible, electric-vehicle platform for its commercial unit: Ford Pro.

The low-cost EVs will allow Ford to compete with Chinese EV makers, which are now making a killing selling low-cost EVs, and Tesla, which is currently developing its own affordable electric cars.

Other companies such as Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLA) also have to move swiftly into the affordable EV segment if they aren’t to be left far behind by the likes of Ford.

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