Ford looks to future EV breakthroughs — and smaller cars — to staunch the bleeding

Ford is the No. 2 seller of electric vehicles in the US. It’s very proud of that fact, but the amount of cash it had to burn to get there is enough to make you wonder whether it can keep that title.

The company reported its first quarter earnings last night, and woo boy, it’s rough

The company reported its first quarter earnings last night, and woo boy, it’s rough. Ford said it lost $1.3 billion on the sale of 10,000 electric vehicles in the first three months of the year — a staggering figure that amounts to $130,000 lost for every EV sold.

Ford’s Model e division, which oversees some of the company’s EV sales as well as software, reported $100 million in revenue, an 84 percent drop from the same period last year. The number of vehicles sold (10,000) was also down from the first quarter of 2023 by 20 percent. Ford blamed “pricing pressure” — mostly driven by Tesla’s rampant price cuts — and “slower growth” as customers have cooled on electric vehicles.

To be sure, Ford Model e doesn’t handle all the company’s EV business. Ford Pro, its commercial division, also sells electric F-150 Lightning trucks and E-Transit vans. Earlier this month, Ford said it sold a cumulative 20,232 EVs during the first quarter, which was an 86 percent increase over Q1 2023 but a 22 percent drop compared to the previous quarter.

Ford lost $1.3 billion on the sale of 10,000 electric vehicles

So what’s going to staunch the bleeding? For one, the company plans to spend less than it previously said it would — to the tune of $8 or $9 billion, rather than $10 billion.

“We’ll probably be on the low end of that range,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a call with investors. “And we’re being very consistent about our discipline on profitability.”

Another thing it says will help bring its EV business into balance is new technologies, like “new battery chemistry and formats to substantially reduce the cost of the batteries for that vehicle.”

These include a lithium iron phosphate chemistry that Ford says is more durable, faster charging, and more affordable than its current lineup of EVs, which largely rely on nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) chemistries.

Ford has been developing these new chemistries with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL), a global producer of EV batteries — though the automaker stressed that it will own and operate the plant outright through its wholly owned subsidiary and that the Chinese company will only provide “knowledge and services.” Initial production is expected to commence in 2026.

Another major bet is on Ford’s Silicon Valley-based skunkworks group, which is being led by ex-Tesla executive Alan Clarke. These designers are working on a next-generation platform of smaller, more affordable EVs, which Ford is betting will be a big help in winning over urban dwellers.

“We believe that’s where the adoption of EV will grow the fastest,” Farley said of city residents. “And we believe we can compete in segments of small cars and vehicles, more affordable vehicles in a unique way that’s Ford.”

Keep in mind, this is the same company that discontinued all of its sedans and hatchbacks six years ago in favor of building big SUVs and trucks, concluding that larger vehicles would drive bigger profit margins.

They did — and still do today. Ford’s gas-guzzling SUVs (Escape, Explorer, Expedition, and Bronco) had a historic quarter, which the company is calling its “all-time best.” The company sold 216,997 SUVs — up 15 percent over last year.

Sedans like the Ford Focus, Fiesta, and Fusion were money losers — much like the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning are today. For the company to say that smaller, more affordable cars will be its salvation from future losses is a little ironic.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.