Ford is currently working on developing a low-cost EV, using a startup-like skunkworks project that's led by Alan Clarke, an ex-Tesla exec whose team also includes Anil Paryani, who also used to work at Tesla before founding AMP, an EV power company that Ford acquired in November last year.
During the company's fourth-quarter earnings call yesterday, Ford CEO Jim Farley specifically mentioned the "skunkworks team" created to develop a "low-cost" EV platform. Clarke is leading the effort, which has apparently been in the works for two years already.
Unfortunately Ford hasn't given us any indication of when this platform would finally be unveiled, not to mention the car(s) it will power. This is Ford's "third generation" EV platform, and it's focused on cost and efficiency for smaller vehicles. Ford's second-gen platform, on the other hand, will power the T3 electric truck and a three-row SUV that are both scheduled to go into production next year.
Here's what Ford CEO Jim Farley had to say:
We’re also adjusting our capital, switching and more focused onto smaller EV products. Now, this is important because we made a bet in silence two years ago and we developed a super-talented skunkworks team to create a low-cost EV platform. It was a small group, a small team — some of the best EV engineers in the world — and it was separate from the Ford mothership. It was a startup and they’ve developed a flexible platform that will not only deploy to several types of vehicles, there will be a large install base for software and services that we’re now seeing at Pro [the company’s commercial unit]. All of our EV teams are ruthlessly focused on cost and efficiency in our EV products, because the ultimate competition is going to be the affordable Tesla and the Chinese OEMs.
That "affordable Tesla" he's talking about is the much-rumored, much-anticipated Model 2 which should be cheaper than any Tesla before it.
Ford's recent profits have come from sales of ICE vehicles and growth at Ford Pro, its commercial vehicle unit, whereas the EV business continuously drags down its earnings.Ford F-150 Lightning
As a consequence, the company has recently scaled back some of its EV-related investment plans as it adjusts to market conditions - aka the fact that most people who want and/or can afford a currently available EV already got one, and so if further sales growth is to come, it will come from lower-cost vehicles.
With the skunkworks project it just acknowledged, Ford seems to have seen this coming and so it might be positioned quite well in the market whenever that platform actually launches.