Shifts are returning to Ford Motor Company plants across North America, with the automaker claiming Thursday that full production will return sooner than you might think.
At the same time, Ford dropped details on when consumers might expect to see an electric vehicle that hauls heavy loads, rather than steals past glory and heritage from one of America’s most beloved vehicles.
Hmm, maybe there’s still some lingering bitterness on this writer’s part about the Mustang Mach-E. But that model is yesterday’s news. The next-generation F-150 and the top-selling Transit commercial van stand to gain EV variants.
Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley started his day by speaking (virtually) at the 2020 Global Auto Industry Conference, organized by Deutsche Bank.
In his talk, Farley claimed the company hit
percent of its planned production[/URL] in the first three weeks of resumed production following the coronavirus shutdown. Ford’s North American plants, along with those of rival General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, began coming back online on May 18th.
Come July 6th, Farley said, Ford will be back to pre-virus levels of production.
“We’re seeing very strong demand, and have for more than a month now. Actually, some of our products, on retail, were up year over year, like F-150,” Farley told
, adding that second and third shifts were being added this week. By month’s end, he said, “almost all” of the company’s plants will be operating on three shifts, some with overtime.
When asked about this year’s launches of big-ticket items, Farley said the Bronco and F-150 launches are a go. “We don’t see any delays to the launch at all, outside of the COVID shutdowns of the plants.”
There’s a busy month coming up. A reborn Bronco, salivated over since its announced return (and even before), will see a public reveal sometime in July, while the next-generation F-150 will land on July 25th. Customers won’t be able to get their hands on the new truck until the fall, with the Bronco not entering buyers’ driveways until the start of the new year.
As for those EVs, they sit on a longer timetable. Farley claims they’ll be on the market within 24 months. A bit hazy there; past reports claimed that the F-150 EV would at least see a debut in 2021, and that could still happen. The electric Transit was previously promised for 2022.
While Ford faces no shortage of competition in the still-unrealized electric pickup segment, a longtime rival aims to give it a run for its money in the EV van segment, too. GM, which plans to counter the oh-so-green F-150 with a brawny GMC Hummer EV, is reportedly working on an electric commercial van using its in-house battery technology and recently unveiled vehicle architecture.
a version of this article first appeared on TTAC