The Columbus Dispatch

Ford CEO: No plan to spin off EV business

Automaker is looking at changes to operations

- Tom Krisher

DETROIT – The CEO of Ford Motor Co. says the automaker has no plans to spin off its electric vehicle or internal combustion businesses, but is reinventin­g itself by removing costs and ramping up for large-scale EV and software sales.

Ford CEO Jim Farley told the Wolfe Research virtual global auto technology conference Wednesday that the company could hit Tesla-like profit margins by using common electric motors, electronic components and other parts across all sizes of vehicles.

But to do that, Ford needs radically different human talent than it now has, Farley said in a surprising­ly candid interview with analyst Rod Lache. He also said the company has too many people and too much complexity, and it doesn’t have the expertise to transition to battery-electric vehicles. “That’s the simple answer. There’s waste,” he said.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford has about 183,000 employees worldwide.

Ford, Farley said, can’t just pivot from internal combustion engines to battery powered vehicles. The internal combustion engine organizati­on is good at body, paint and manufactur­ing, and would be envied by startup EV makers.

But “I can’t turn to the ICE organizati­on and say ‘go be Tesla,’ ” Farley said. “They may do it on the (auto) body. They may do it in plant operations, but that’s not good enough,” he said, without giving specifics of what changes are coming. Ford has only 15% of the market in the U.S., so the transition to battery vehicles is a chance to attract new customers. But Farley said it needs to make the buying process simple and all online, with no inventory in the system and home deliveries of the vehicles.

Ford’s distributi­on costs are $3,000 to $4,000 higher than Tesla’s, Farley said, and is seeking to close that gap by attracting new talent with those skills.

Neither Ford’s internal combustion business nor its electric vehicle operations earn as much profit as they could, Farley said. The company needs more talent to lower costs and raise quality in its ICE business, and cut the cost of materials for electric vehicles, he said.

He said also the company is working hard to secure raw materials such as lithium and nickel to make EV batteries.

 ?? TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/AP FILE ?? Ford CEO Jim Farley says the company is preparing for large-scale EV and software sales.
TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/AP FILE Ford CEO Jim Farley says the company is preparing for large-scale EV and software sales.

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