For many automakers, battery-electric vehicles are the future and so often the future is now, however, for Ford Motor Co., the start of the future is going to be pushed back a bit as the automaker is delaying production on the new Mustang Mach-E and Ford Bronco.
The news came last Friday as Ford officials spoke to analysts and gave an update on the state of the business, including the restart of the production that took place May 18.
“We’re not going to do any additional delay to these launches beyond the impact of COVID-19 as a mechanism to conserve cash,” said Hau Thai-Tang, chief product development and purchasing officer, said during his presentation last week.
“I know that’s something that some of the other OEMs are doing. However, given our inability to work in the assembly plants during the shelter-in-place restrictions, it will have an impact to program timing in terms of the launches. But we expect to launch delays to be commensurate with the duration of the shutdown period.”
While disappointing, Ford officials told TheDetroitBureau.com that the Mach-E and Bronco – both 2021 model-year vehicles – are still expected to be available on later this year. The two products have generated a lot of interest for Detroit’s second-largest automaker.
They are a significant part of the company’s restructuring plans that, in part, involve a significant revamping of its product portfolio, including not only the new EV and SUV, but also the elimination of all of the sedans in its line-up. Once everything is in place, the only passenger car that will remain is the iconic Ford Mustang.
Thai-Tang told attendees at the Bank of America conference last week that the new products were important to the automaker’s bottom line — something that the current pandemic has reinforced the importance of.
“We think, again, we have a real opportunity here, given the freshness of our product portfolio and the new products coming online in really hot segments,” he said. “And the way we’re looking at it, it’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity to grow our brand favorability as well as market share and revenue with products coming online like Bronco, Mach-E and the F-150.”
Ford, like its fellow Michigan-based automakers, reopened its plants today, albeit on a reduced schedule. They followed new COVID-19-inspired protocols, which included wearing masks, glasses and, in some cases, face shields. Additionally, the company revamped the production processes to allow for following social distancing guidelines that dictate remaining at least six feet apart.
The automaker also announced it reached an agreement with four health-care systems in metro Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Louisville, Kentucky, to “quickly” test hourly and salaried workers at plants in those areas showing symptoms of COVID-19. The testing and results should be complete in 24 hours, officials noted. Employees in close proximity to those identified will be placed in a 14-day quarantine immediately.