Ford's pitch to Wall Street: More aggressive EV push, new commercial vehicle business

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday unveiled a growth plan that centers on electric vehicles, the automaker's commercial vehicle business and new services made possible by digital connectivity.

At the heart of the plan is a shift of the company's business model from a one-time transactional model to what it describes as an "always-on" relationship with customers that keeps them coming back beyond their initial vehicle purchase, providing new revenue streams from data- and technology-driven services.

Executives from the Blue Oval were scheduled to share details of the plan with financial analysts at a Capital Markets Day event kicking off at 9:30 a.m.

Among the highlights of the plan is the creation of Ford Pro, a dedicated commercial vehicle services and distribution business within the company that will be headed up by Ted Cannis, according to a news release ahead of the event. Cannis, currently head of Ford's North America commercial vehicle business, will serve as CEO of the new business.

In terms of electrification, which investors and analysts have been watching closely and awaiting further detail, the Blue Oval said Wednesday it will further accelerate its transition. The company now plans to invest more than $30 billion in electrification by 2025 — up from a $22 billion commitment made earlier this year.

And though the automaker stopped short of saying when it expects to be fully electric across its lineup, it said it expects 40% of its global vehicle volume to be fully electric by 2030. That volume will be driven in part by the automaker's first wave of EVs, which include the Mustang Mach-E that launched late last year, the electric F-150 Lightning Ford unveiled last week and the forthcoming E-Transit commercial van.

The automaker said Wednesday that the F-150 Lightning already has gotten 70,000 reservations, less than one week after the company started accepting refundable $100 deposits.

"I'm excited about what Ford+ means for our customers, who will get new and better experiences by pairing our iconic, world-class vehicles with connected technology that constantly gets better over time," CEO Jim Farley said of the growth plan in a statement. "We will deliver lower costs, stronger loyalty and greater returns across all our customers.

"This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T," he added, "and we're grabbing it with both hands."

Ford also was slated to lay out its plans for battery development and production in greater detail. Already this year the automaker announced the creation of a global battery development center and a joint-venture to build battery cells with partner SK Innovation at two plants in the U.S.

On Wednesday the company said it would offer "an extensive range of EV batteries," including what it is calling the IonBoost lithium ion battery, the IonBoost Pro lithium iron phosphate battery for commercial vehicles, as well as solid-state batteries that come out of Ford's investment in start-up Solid Power.

Ford said, too, that it expects to have about 1 million vehicles that are capable of receiving over-the-air software updates on the road by the end of this year. It expects to exceed competitor Tesla Inc.'s volume of OTA-capable vehicles by next July, and scale up to 33 million vehicles by 2028.

The company said it expects to deliver on its goal of reaching an 8% adjusted earnings before interest and taxes margin in 2023.

Meanwhile, the company also was slated to talk about Blue Oval Intelligence, a "cloud-based platform for integrating electrical, power distribution, computing and software systems in connected Ford and Lincoln vehicles."

Ford's stock closed the market Tuesday at $13.06 per share and was up about 2% in pre-market trading about 8:15 a.m. 

The automaker has been under pressure to boost its stock, which is up more than 40% over the last six months.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski