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Ford's plan: 40 new electric vehicles in 4 years

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. plans to increase its investment in electric powertrains, spending $11 billion to launch 40 new electric vehicles by 2022.

The EVs include 16 full battery-electric vehicles; the rest will be hybrids, the automaker announced Sunday at the Detroit auto show.

The Blue Oval’s tweaked electric strategy gives a tangible glimpse of how the company is bridging its past with a future that some argue is going to be here sooner than anticipated. Part of the company’s North American plan seems to be to electrify nameplates people recognize in higher-margin segments.

“We think that electrifying the vehicles that we’re best known for, that really drive our business results, and making them electric is really what (CEO) Jim (Hackett) means by smart vehicles in a smart world,” Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said Sunday after Ford made its North American International Auto Show announcements.

“People want nice (electric) products. They want a higher-end product.”

The automaker is leaning on history to drive the company forward. Company leaders said as much with the new takes on legacy products unveiled Sunday.

“We were the original transportation disruptor,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said at a press conference. “(We) have reinvented our company many times over the last 114 years. Our heritage and our future are intertwined.”

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The Dearborn-based automaker rolled out three vehicles Sunday — including a 475-horsepower limited-edition Mustang Bullitt and the 2019 Ranger — and announced plans for a hybrid F-150 and a battery electric performance Mach 1.

The electrification plans, though vague, show that Farley and his team want to reinvent the brand’s storied products.

The company won’t have to work as hard to convince buyers to choose a hybrid if the powertrain is stuffed in an F-150 — as long as Ford can prove there’s no change in performance. That’s the goal, based on comments made in recent months by Hackett and others.

Meantime, Ford is packing product into its existing lineup. The company this quarter launched a much-needed compact SUV in North America with the EcoSport. Ford leadership used the Detroit show to show a new performance-SUV, the Edge ST, which is the first in a news “series” of performance models.

Ford has trailed the competition in the growing segments EcoSport and Ranger will enter. But Farley said Sunday that Ford’s lineup is flush with fresh product that’s well-timed.

“We’re in really good shape,” Farley said. “The flavor for Ford is that we are competing in the parts of the market that we can really win in. We make sure new product is in segments where Ford is very strong, and we can move to even more strength.”

Ford wanted to show that even in a world full of robot cars, there will be consumers looking for brands and vehicles they can trust.

“This is an era change,” Hackett said, referencing Ford’s increased investment in electrification. “That’s something we’ve all expected, and I think Ford’s ability to marry this propulsion capability with the passion of the vehicles is the story.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau