Ford product development was constipated when CEO Jim Hackett took over in 2017, followed by a vehicle lineup in 2018 that was not competitive. It added up to far-from-stellar earnings last year: Ford saw its profits fall a tumultuous 52 percent to $3.7 billion in 2018.
Hackett and his leadership team promise that will change this year as the automaker spends the next 24 months updating 75 percent of the lineup. And while cars are going away, more crossovers and trucks are in the works, many of them with batteries and electric motors.
Ford has started early work on an electric F-150 but is not saying how far out that will be. A hybrid is coming out by the end of the decade, suggesting the pure electric is still many years away.
But Ford does have a battery-electric SUV coming, inspired by the Mustang, and using a new electric architecture Ford has engineered. The SUV will be shown this year and go on sale in 2020. Hackett told investors on a call to report 2018 earnings that a new Lincoln electric vehicle is being added to the portfolio which could be a more refined version of the Ford crossover. Both are expected to be performance vehicles with off-road capability and a range of about 300 miles.
The automaker has said Lincoln will take a lead in electrification, much like General Motors has chosen Cadillac as the lead for its electric vehicle strategy. We are starting to see the differentiation in products such as the new Explorer which has a hybrid version while the new Lincoln Aviator, which is the same size and on the same new rear-drive platform, gets a plug-in hybrid.
North America remains the profit engine, earning $7.6 billion which means Ford workers will get $7,600 in profit sharing. Ford lost money in every other region as well as in the “mobility segment.” Meanwhile it has all but abandoned its car lineup to concentrate on more profitable crossovers, trucks and commercial vehicles.
The big SUVs, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, are carrying the load along with the F-Series. The new Explorer and Aviator will help and a new Escape and return of the Escape hybrid are coming later this year.