Ford aims to capture more EV newbies with three-row electric SUV

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Ford’s F-150 Lightning electric pickup has managed to capture a high rate of customers who hadn’t considered an electric vehicle before, with EV newbies making up nearly 80% of reservation-holders. And as Ford CEO Jim Farley underscored this week in a quarterly financial call, there’s room to do that again in the near future with other vehicle types—like with a three-row electric SUV.

“A lot of new customers bought a Lightning that never owned a pickup truck before,” said Farley. “And we intend to do that with a three-row crossover and with a bunch of EV Pro vehicles, which we think will be a huge growth for us.”

Ford might be eyeing the form factor of the Ford Explorer, or former Ford Flex, perhaps. An electric version of the U.S. family mainstay—not to be confused with the VW-based Ford Explorer EV for Europe revealed in March—may keep some existing owners who already have a Mach-E from moving on to another brand for something larger and electric. 

Ford Explorer electric crossover for Europe

Ford Explorer electric crossover for Europe

“We also found that customers are very loyal to full EV powertrains once they enter, but they are not brand-loyal for their first purchase,” added Farley, noting that over 60% of its customers are new to Ford. “We’re seeing that the second EV purchase is much more loyal to the brand in these developed EV markets.”

Farley emphasized that such future models will amount to tremendous growth, but that growth needs to be managed.

“in the small, medium utility segment, it will be a very saturated two-row EV market,” said Farley. “Against this backdrop to ensure profitable growth, we know we have to have a fresh, compelling offering with the right cost structure—something we continue to improve with the Mustang Mach-E.” 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric powertrain

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric powertrain

Looking ahead to that three-row, Farley also noted that Ford has reduced the bill of materials for the Mach-E by $5,000 per vehicle. That’s likely one of the factors that enabled significant price cuts for the Mustang Mach-E lineup again earlier this week. 

Ford hasn’t yet revealed which of several future EVs will be built at its Canadian plant in Oakville, Ontario, potentially starting in 2025, but that’s one possible manufacturing location for the three-row SUV. 

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning pre-production

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning pre-production

In Ford’s last quarterly call, Farley revealed that future Ford EVs will be “radically simplified,” with fewer body styles and “just a handful of orderable combinations.” He also emphasized that this will mean better quality and lower manufacturing costs. 

“We want to have a lot of scale per top hat,” said Farley in this week’s call, again suggesting that the company is aiming to avoid niche models. One such example of this would be the “SUV coupe” body styles that some automakers have introduced to the EV market. 

Such an electric SUV wouldn’t be the first with three rows. It would need to rival the Kia EV9 and, upmarket, the Rivian R1S, Tesla Model X, and Volvo EX90, among others. But if it can get out ahead of some other market offerings yet to come—as the Lightning did—Ford might be able to create another hit. 

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