Ford to speed up push to electric autos, digitisation

Ford to speed up push to electric autos, digitisation

Ford plans to accelerate investments in electric cars, but said its 2021 results could be pinched by the shortage of semiconductors.
Ford plans to accelerate investments in electric cars, but said its 2021 results could be pinched by the shortage of semiconductors.

NEW YORK - Ford announced Thursday a dramatic acceleration of its investment push into electric autos and signaled deepening collaborations with technology giants on the increased digitisation of driving.

The US auto giant, released fourth-quarter and annual results, and said it plans $22 billion in electric car investment through 2025, nearly twice the earlier plan.

The announcement is the latest big bet on electric autos by a legacy automaker in the wake of upstart Tesla's growth and in anticipation of Biden administration initiatives to encourage emission-free vehicles.

Last week, Ford's rival General Motors set a target of having most of its fleet emissions-free by 2035.

"It's stunning how fast the industry is changing," said Chief Executive Jim Farley who pointed to surging electric auto sales in Europe.

Farley reported strong early interest in Ford's Mustang Mach-E, its electric sport utility vehicle which hit showrooms in December. The automaker plans a range of all-electric vehicles, including for its best-selling F-150 pickup truck.

"The costs are coming down quickly, but for me and the team, the move to electric is not about batteries and motors," Farley said on a conference call with analysts. "It's about a digital vehicle and a new customers experience."

The revamped plan came as Ford reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2.8 billion, compared with a loss of $1.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Revenues fell 9.3% to $36 billion.

Ford projected 2021 operating profits of $8 to $9 billion, much above $2.8 billion in 2020, when the company suffered a big drop in auto sales amid the disruption from Covid-19.

Hit from semiconductor crunch

Ford on Monday unveiled an alliance with Google to employ its cloud computing platform.

Farley said the Google venture is not "exclusive" and that Ford's vehicles would also employ Amazon's voice program and other programs by Apple and Microsoft.

"The technology partners are becoming more and more important for us to deliver the digital experience," he said.

Farley said the auto giant planned to take steps to lock in capacity of electric battery cells, recognizing that supplies could be challenged as more rivals build electric cars.

The auto industry is today facing a shortage of semiconductors following a surging demand for chips over the last year from customer electronics.

Ford projected annual operating profits could be dented by $1 to $2.5 billion due to lost auto sales connected to the semiconductor shortage.

Earlier Thursday, Ford said it was trimming output of its F-150 because of the supply issue, following on the heels of other automakers, including GM that announced Tuesday it was shutting productions at three plants, and slashing output in half at another due to chip supply.

"We want to lock it up," Farley said of battery cell capacity. "We cannot afford to be in the situation we are with the semiconductors right now."

Ford shares rose 1.2% in after-hours trading to $11.51.

Do you like the content of this article?

Nearly a fifth of all food reaching consumers wasted: UN

PARIS - Seventeen percent of the food available to consumers worldwide in 2019 -- almost one billion tonnes -- was thrown away by households, retailers, institutions and the hospitality industry, far more than previously suspected, the UN said Thursday.


Nineteen Myanmar police seek refuge in India

NEW DELHI: At least 19 Myanmar police have crossed into India to escape taking orders from a military junta that is trying to suppress protests against last month's coup, an Indian police official said on Thursday, adding that more were expected.


Hong Kong court grants bail to 15 of 47 activists

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong court on Thursday granted bail to around a third of 47 democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, as the case draws widespread criticism that Beijing is using a national security law to crush the city's opposition.