• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Ford working on ‘longer, sleeker, quieter’ 3-row EV SUV with 350-mile range


May 24, 2023
Ford working on 'longer, sleeker, quieter' 3-row EV SUV with 350-mile range


During a Capital Markets day for investors, Ford CEO Jim Farley opened up on one of the EV initiatives for the company’s Ford+ corporate strategy. At the same time, the boss filled in some of the blanks about the coming electric pickup truck we’ve heard snippets about under the rubric “Project T3.” The main event will be a new battery-electric three-row SUV due in 2025 as the people-hauler sibling of the successor truck to the F-150 Lightning, both built on a brand new EV platform called TE1.

Farley called the SUV “a personal bullet train” because of its ability to go at least 300 miles at 70 miles per hour on the highway. In combined driving, Ford EV and software honcho Doug Field — the ex-Tesla and ex-Apple engineer poached in 2021 — said the SUV is expected to go 350 miles on a charge in combined driving and refill 150 miles of range in 10 minutes at a DC fast charger.

Let’s start with context. Field said the automaker’s been working on this for a couple of years, which would be right around the time Field landed at Ford. The automaker realized EV commoditization, on top of price wars during this heinously expensive phase of the transition out of gas vehicles, fierce competition in the two-row SUV segment, and imminent arrivals from China would be a problem. Farley said, “We saw it coming like a freight train,” with little way for an automaker like Ford to keep from being crushed. “If your EV strategy depends on a two-row crossover right now, you better have the costs of a BYD to compete.”

Knowing that wouldn’t work, he turned efforts to segments that suit Ford’s strengths and where price won’t be an issue: Trucks and large SUVs aimed at buyers who don’t mind paying more for tailored products, software, services, and experiences. Field said the mission is to develop a vehicle so good “it wouldn’t even need wheels to be a great product.” Alongside the “bullet train” SUV, the coming pickup has been called “the Millennium Falcon with a back porch,” the duo forming the one-two punch of Ford’s second-gen electric vehicles unconstrained by ICE compromises.

Farley repeatedly referred to the current Expedition as the traditional comparison for the coming three-row EV. That might have been only about interior room, the Expedition being Ford’s full-sized three-row offering and the electric SUV providing similar accommodations. It’s possible the future SUV is sized more like an Explorer with the interior room of an Expedition, thanks to the dictates of aerodynamics and the benefits of a dedicated electric architecture. Both execs said the SUV won’t look like the Expedition, nor like anything else in the segment, being “longer, sleeker, quieter,” with a lower ride height. We have no idea what it will look like, a slide presented to investors showing nothing more than six occupants in three rows atop a slim pack.

The gas-engined Expedition will continue for buyers who need to haul and tow lots of gear over long distances. Field said, “We could’ve converted an Expedition into an EV, but it wouldn’t have made for a very good EV and it wouldn’t have made for a very good Expedition.” Instead of the 140-kWh pack the company believes a converted Expedition would need to go 300 miles on the highway, the range figures for the future electric family getabout are predicted to come from a 100-kWh battery. That will be a triumph if it comes to pass. The 100-kWh battery in the Tesla Model X is EPA-rated for 348 miles, the Model X not only 12 inches shorter than an Expedition, but wholly unable to swallow the six-seat interior shown in Ford’s slide. 

A future battery one-third smaller than an equivalent modern battery capable of the same range will weigh less and cost less. On top of that, Field said, “With the same amount of scarce battery raw materials we can bring our product to three customers instead of two.”

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