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Ford has a two-year-old skunkworks team dedicated to EVs

Exciting stuff with a little help from an ex-Tesla fella. But we likely won't see a vehicle from the team for a while.

Image: Ford

Automakers have long established secret divisions to work out challenging engineering and design issues. Their efforts often turn out some of the most impressive performance models seen from those brands, but Ford’s new skunkworks division is wholly focused on something else.

Ford’s CEO told investors that the company created its skunkworks division two years ago with the goal of building next-generation affordable electric vehicles. Alan Clarke, a former Tesla engineer, is heading the efforts in his role as executive director of advanced EV development. 

Surprise, surprise. EVs haven’t been a golden egg-laying goose for Ford, which reported losses of $1.6 billion on its Model E division last year. The automaker announced a pullback on investments and expanding EV production efforts, but this announcement shows that it hasn’t abandoned the program. CEO Jim Farley said, “We made a bet in silence two years ago. We developed a super-talented skunkworks team to create a low-cost EV platform. It was a small group, small team, some of the best EV engineers in the world, and it was separate from the Ford mothership. It was a startup.”

The skunkworks team developed a platform that will be flexible enough to underpin a wide range of vehicle types. Farley also said the team’s work will support software and connected services, such as Ford’s commercial telematics systems. 

While this is an interesting development, it’s unlikely to yield any immediate products. The team is said to be working on Ford’s third-gen EVs, which would come after the electric truck and SUV we already know about. In the meantime, Ford will lean on hybrids, saying its sales climbed 20 percent last year with an expectation of another 40 percent increase in 2024. 

Author

Chris Teague
the authorChris Teague