Ford plans to release several electric SUVs in the near-to-mid-term future. In addition to the Ford MEB SUV that would rival the VW ID.4, models will include a Ford Explorer EV and a Lincoln Aviator EV. The North American-focused midsize electric SUVs were confirmed at the Delivering Ford+ (Ford Capital Markets Day 2021) event on May 26.
Ford Explorer EV to ride on a new BEV architecture
At the event, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, announced a new dedicated EV platform to underpin a Ford Explorer EV and a Lincoln Aviator EV. Giving a preview of the platform with visuals, he said:
Today, we’re pleased to preview our rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture. It will deliver a whole new generation of high-volume vehicles, with even better returns because it supports higher production scale. Our architecture approach still allows us to share parts across vehicles, right down to the same pouch we use on F-150 Lightning and E-Transit. Rest assured, while some of the core technologies is shared, the vehicles themselves and the experiences they create for Ford and Lincoln customers will be very different.Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford (Delivering Ford+/Capital Markets Day 2021)
He revealed that the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator would be among the fully electrified models on the new platform.
Our new rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive BEV flexible architecture will underpin a range of emotive vehicles slated for production between now and 2030, including active lifestyle vehicles with great driving dynamics, cargo vehicles for those whole value space and versatility for their commercial needs, pickups delivering legendary Built Ford Tough capability on mid-size trucks, rugged SUVs for our adventure-seeking customers, and high-margin, high-demand larger two- and three-row SUVs for families around the world, like Explorer, and Lincoln Aviator.Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford (Delivering Ford+/Capital Markets Day 2021)
Lincoln Aviator EV & Ford Explorer EV reconfirmed
Following the announcement of the Ford Explorer EV, Mike Levine, Ford North America Product Communications Manager, reaffirmed the plan on Twitter. “Yes, we will fully electrify Explorer as you might expect, given our plan to deliver 40% of our line-up as fully electric vehicles by 2030,” Levine said.
Ford plans to develop two new dedicated EV platforms, and the second new platform will underpin larger pickup trucks. “I’m pleased to announce that we’ll also deliver a scalable dedicated BEV architecture optimized for our next-gen full-size pickup trucks and utilities,” Thai-Tang said.
In the U.S. alone, Ford expects one-third of the full-size pickup segment to go fully electric by 2030, representing more than 800,000 vehicles annually. The Blue Oval says it will capture 70% of the all-electric full-size bus and van industry by 2030, which would be more than 300,000 vehicles annually.
Ford has raised its planned investment in electrification by 2025 to USD 30 billion to accelerate. In addition to vehicle development, a sizable chunk of this investment will go on into the development of new ‘IonBoost’ lithium-ion batteries, ‘IonBoost Pro’ lithium iron phosphate batteries, and solid-state batteries.
Ford Ion Park
On April 27, 2021, Ford announced Ford Ion Park, a new facility in southeast Michigan, for the R&D of battery and battery cell technology and potentially even manufacturing batteries in the future. This will be in addition to the 200,000 square-foot learning lab for developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays that opens in late 2022, located in the same place.
On May 3, 2021, Ford announced an additional investment in Solid Power to speed up solid-state battery technology development by contributing to a USD 130 million Series B investment. With this investment round, the Blue Oval is an equal equity owner with BMW Group, and representatives from both companies are to join Solid Power’s board.
Ted Miller, Ford’s electrification subsystems and power supply research manager, has said that the company can increase range, improve interior space and cargo volume, and, eventually, lower the costs to provide a better value to customers. Under the new agreement, the company will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells from Solid Power for testing and integration into future electric vehicles beginning in 2022. In addition, it has a separate agreement to co-develop and test its specific battery cell design also with Solid Power.
Exactly three months after the announcement, on July 27, 2021, Ford revealed specific details about the Ford Ion Park. The company will construct the facility in Romulus, a city in Michigan’s Wayne County. USD 100 million will go into this project, which will be more than half of the company’s USD 185 million committed investment in developing, testing, and building battery cells and cell arrays.
Ford plans to refurbish an existing 270,000 sq.-ft. facility to accommodate up to 200 engineers and make space for pilot-scale equipment for electrode, cell and array design and production innovation and engineering. The Blue Oval will open its “new collaborative learning lab” in 2022.
While all Ford models would eventually become electric vehicles, brand “icons” get precedence over the others. Nameplates with long records of healthy sales and profitability, such as Mustang, Transit, F-150, Ranger, and Explorer, are electrified first on the road to zero-emission.
“Launching our BEVs with our most iconic brands allows us to take their strengths and desirability to a whole new level,” said Lisa Drake, COO, Ford (North America), at the 2021 Capital Markets Day event. “We can grow our brand by electrifying our icons,” Drake added, backed by the fact that approximately 70% of Mustang Mach-E orders have come from new customers who switched to Ford from other brands.