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Ford and the electric pickup truck

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by tonybelding, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Since Ford has been throwing some shade in Tesla's direction recently, I thought it might be a good idea to take a closer look at Ford's own situation. First some brief background: Ford was the only one of the US "big three" to avoid bankruptcy several years back, in part by getting a huge government loan, supposedly for the development of new-technology vehicles (such as electric cars!), but in reality it was just a bailout. However, bailing Ford out and avoiding bankruptcy left them with a massive debt load (far worse than Tesla!) that GM and Chrysler were able to write off and leave behind.

    That huge debt is only sustainable because Ford have a "cash cow" in their massively popular and profitable F-series pickup trucks. Creditors and shareholders are not too worried as long as Ford can keep raking in the dough from millions of F-150 sales. However, Ford's product catalog has become narrower over the years, and their business is now highly dependent on their pickup trucks.

    Also worth noting: Ford's last CEO was ousted at least partially due to his failure to support plug-in vehicle R&D within the company. The current CEO has the mandate to do this, but we haven't seen the effort bear any visible fruit yet. So, who knows what they are working on behind closed doors?

    Ford's situation today reminds me of Kodak. Contrary to the urban myth, Kodak was not blindsided by the appearance of digital photography. They invented the first digital camera, and their management were well aware that digital photography was the future, and they even got into that market with some early success. (Kodak digital cameras were outselling Canon for a while.) However, their cash cow that kept bringing in the big money and supporting the company was film and processing—right up until that cash cow flopped over and died much more suddenly than anyone expected. There was simply no way for Kodak to deal with that.

    Ford today should be urgently, very urgently, working to develop an electric (or perhaps PHEV, if not both) pickup truck to replace the F-150. If they don't, they're going to be in for a world of hurt after another company, any other company, successfully rolls one out. And they'll also need a huge source of batteries to go in all those electric pickups. Better hope they're getting ready for that. Frankly, I'm not optimistic for them, even if they see what's coming. It might already be too late.
     
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  2. Eclectic

    Eclectic Banned

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    As someone who has owned pickups for most of his life, and was also an early adopter of Tesla, I believe that you have totally misjudged the pickup market. There are some people who use pickups like cars, but for most of us there is simply no near term replacement for ICE. Where I spend a lot of my time (in the less populated areas of the country), pickup trucks are the primary vehicle for people and they are that way because they work in the environment and are cost effective. EVs are an urban thing, especially a high income urban thing. That's not the bulk of the market for F150s.
     
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  3. AviP

    AviP Member

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    You are worried about Ford! Before that Chrysler is going to die. They are still focused on that horrible fuel guzzling 5.7L Hemi engine in their SRT lineup and keep working on tech to increase the horsepower. Yup, it produces over 800hp but while that it is great for racing, it's really tech that is useless and heading in the wrong direction when compared to the competition. So, I boldly predict that Chrysler will die before Ford! Unless they come up with the electric pickup. In which case, goodbye Ford!
     
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  4. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Of course there's no near-term EV replacement for F-150. EVs were golf carts, city cars and are now high-performance long-range sedans and SUVs.
    I've only owned 3 pickups so far but I'm going to assume that Ford makes a boatload of $ from sales to Texas (oil, construction), Calif, (construction, Ag) and Florida (construction). Not so much to Montana, Wyoming, and other less populated areas. My contractor neighbors drive Silverados or F-150s and these are pretty maxed out machines which cost $50k before their 179 deduction.
    A Tesla pickup, with massive towing capacity, range and the 179 deduction would do well I think and the harm to Ford and GM would be at their highest profit margin trucks. I have to assume Ford is considering this and arguments about a Tesla killer F-150 inside Dearborn are ongoing.
     
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  5. BozieBeMe2

    BozieBeMe2 Member

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    I only wish I had kept the details that pertained to Ford's bail out. I do remember the union insisting if we did not vote for the contract, which would suspend our wage increases & benefits, for at least 3 contracts, Ford would be history. We gave back over 63M, which was given to the top managers, not applied to new product development. Please take all of that at face value because I did not keep pertinent details. But, in Ford's defence, they did make a compliance EV, a 1988 Ford Ranger.
    Ford Ranger EV - Wikipedia
    At Michigan State, Ford has been testing the Ford Fusion for a number of years and not much is ever said about it.
    Ford invests in Michigan's autonomous car testing grounds
    Yet, things are picking up because Ford is renovating the old Detroit Train Station to be their new EV innovation campus.
    In a Detroit Train Station, Ford Looks for the Future - CityLab
    I still hope that Ford does pull their heads outta their derriere because their past EV's attempts are truly butt ugly
     
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  6. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    Ford has cross licenses with Toyota that essentially allow them to use their own version of the HSD that was in the 2004 Prius. Toyota lost the path when they stayed with Ni-MH even after Li-ion became the new thing.

    All ford has to do is take the drive train tech they already have and marry it to lithium ion packs instead of Ni-MH and they have something workable as a hybrid pickup truck. Buy Samsung cells or similar, put a proper thermal management solution in the mix (don't be Nissan) and it works.

    Have you ever seen a big pickup with 2 or 3 gas tanks? Design with that kind of mindset but replace a gas tank with a lithium ion pack and HV wiring. Make it a Plug in Hybrid use the V6 that is already on the F150 and let the electric motor provide the torque people want.

    It wouldn't be better real world than the top of the line F150 but it'd be better than the entry level F150 with the weakest motor.

    They could have done that any time between 2012 and now (even if it was a CARB only thing). Should have already done it. Should have a pure EV in mule stage while they sell the hybrid truck waiting for battery prices to come down enough to get rid of the V6.

    Yeah, green light it in 2014 and then sit on it never pulling the trigger until someone else does it first.
     
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  7. Xminus6

    Xminus6 Member

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    Oh I don't know. I grew up in Texas and there were many more people who just owned trucks as their main vehicles than people who actually used them to their capacity. I'm not saying your case is incredibly unusual but I would definitely not say that the majority of truck owners are using them the way you are. Even for people who use trucks to actually haul stuff around regularly, if they're doing it in a population-dense area, an EV truck could still be viable. Your situation of remoteness and extreme usage are probably the exception rather than the norm.
     
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  8. Sean Wagner

    Sean Wagner Member

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    Ford didn't go into bankruptcy mainly because they set themselves up to weather the storm financially just before it broke, and pulled through thanks to the "One Ford" mantra of Alan Mulally, who had earlier been lured away from Boeing, where he did an excellent job.

    It seemed like a little over the top back then to sign away the rights to the Ford symbol for an immediate cash injection.
    If you read only a handful of books on the automotive industry, this one needs to be on the list:

    American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company, Mar 13, 2012, by Bryce G. Hoffman

    Along with "All Corvettes Are Red" and "The Machine That Changed The World", in my opinion.
     
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  9. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I've owned pickups, and used the ones on the ranch, for most of my life too, and I don't follow your reasoning. I don't see why a BEV or PHEV pickup would have to be used like a car? You assert that "there is simply no near term replacement for ICE" but never explain why not. What's the problem?

    Not sure why a BEV or PHEV pickup truck couldn't work in that environment. I think one of those would be great down on the farm. I could keep it charged up right there and not have to periodically take a trip all the way to town to fill the tank. That's an hour and a half out of my life, rather than 15 seconds to plug in the charger.

    Actually, I suppose it's possible that battery cost needs to come down a bit further before all the economics work out. So it may be a few years yet. And it may be necessary for the first BEV trucks to be smaller than the behemoths a lot of people are driving today, which would only look like a return to sanity from where I sit. We used a little Ford Ranger 4WD on the ranch for several years, and it worked just fine. I mean, we didn't tow the cattle trailer with it, but for daily use around the place it was no problem.
     
  10. Eclectic

    Eclectic Banned

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    On your first question, let's use the hypothetical based on what I use my truck for, and what many others in my area do as well...I have a place that is 80+ miles away from the nearest supercharger. I need to go from my place to a supply store that is 120 miles away (in the opposite direction from the nearest supercharger). On the way back I need to swing by a buddy's ranch to pick up some gear. All in, I have to drive 300+ miles. Add to this, it's 30 degrees out. I can pick up gas or diesel in any town along the way in about 10 minutes. Charging without a supercharger? Hours and hours. I'm not sure how farms are in your neck of the woods, but where I am, there's a lot of long distancing driving involved in routine chores. Some days it's not 300 miles, but lots of days it is that and more. And in my area, and lots of other rural areas, electricity isn't entirely reliable. You have a storm come through that knocks down power lines and it could be days before the power is back on. With an ICE (and especially a diesel, since lots of farms keep tanks of diesel on site for farm equipment), you either fill up at the farm or you head to a town where the power is on to fill up.

    As for the costs, you can get a very good work truck for under $40,000 and a pretty fancy truck for under $60,000. To get the type of range you need for a working truck, you're probably looking at about 2x the cost of an ICE truck based on likely comparisons. The best we can do right now is guess at prices and I just can't see a BEV truck with a range of at least 300 miles coming in at anything less than what you'd have to pay for a S or X 100.
     
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