Ford Sees Remarkable Demand for EVs like F-150 Lightning and Mach-E
Ford’s bet on electrification is paying off with more orders than the automaker can handle. Global demand for the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover is expected to be about 200,000 units a year, Ford CEO Jim Farley told investors on a call to report third-quarter earnings. Ford can’t get enough batteries to keep up and is hoping its partners in China can help out.
Production of the Ford e-Transit electric commercial van starts in a few weeks and it is already sold out, Farley says.
And the biggie, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric fullsize pickup truck, already has 160,000 reservations. Ford is making final preparations for its launch in Dearborn, but the facility can only make about 80,000 of them a year. Ford has announced plans for a campus in Stanton, Tennessee, with a battery production plant and a vehicle assembly plant that will build next-generation electric F-Series trucks.
Order Bank Makes Sense for EVs
Having an order bank for new models, especially electric vehicles, will help Ford better meet customer needs, Farley says. It eliminates guessing the mix of models customers will want to buy, reducing complexity and cost. Ford’s practice, especially for EVs, is to open reservations when a vehicle is revealed, providing lots of time to fill orders efficiently.
The profit margin for EVs is less than it is on traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines, but eventually will be higher, Farley says.
Ford reported net income of $1.8 billion in the third quarter, a 24 percent drop from the $2.4 billion it posted a year ago, despite the semiconductor chip crisis that has forced all automakers to idle plants and park unfinished vehicles. The automaker had pretax adjusted earnings of $3 billion in the quarter, down from $3.6 billion a year ago
The automaker is also restoring quarterly dividends in December, paying 10 cents a share. Payments were suspended in March 2020.
Managing the Microchip Shortage
Ford was hit by the chip shortage early, but seems to be handling it well now, prioritizing vehicles in high demand and with high-profit margins.
The automaker started the quarter with 60,000-70,000 unfinished vehicles awaiting chips and ended the quarter with 27,000 partially-built vehicles, which should drop to 5,000 by the end of the year, according to chief financial officer John Lawler. Ford shipments were up 67 percent in the third quarter from Q2.
The chip crisis will run through 2022 and could extend into 2023, although the severity of the shortage will continue to dwindle, said Lawler. Wholesale volume in 2022 should increase about 10 percent, or 200,000 more units, than in 2021.
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