With Ford planning to invest more than $30 billion in its electrification program this coming decade, expect to see some existing nameplates make the transition to all-electric, while others will simply go away.
The Lincoln Corsair will get a complete BEV makeover, for example, reemerging as the Corsair-E, several sources confirmed. Other familiar badges will vanish, however, starting with the current Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus models.
Edge has been on the edge for some time and its imminent demise appears to be due to factors beyond just Ford’s shift to electrification, TheDetroitBureau.com was advised. It is the weak link in the Ford line-up, with more popular models sitting just above and just below in the brand’s hierarchy that could readily fill the gap, Ford planners believe, once Edge goes away. The same is the case with Nautilus.
A “deeper” story
The fate of the two crossovers again came to the fore this week when Automotive News reported on the shape the Ford and Lincoln portfolios will take during the next few years. It appeared to confirm long-standing rumors concerning the fate of Edge and Nautilus. But the story is “deeper” than that, said one well-placed company source cautioned.
For the record, Ford isn’t ready to discuss where its SUV/CUV family is heading.
“Both the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus are important part of the Ford and Lincoln line-ups,” stressed spokesman Mike Levine. “Beyond that we don’t comment about spec about future products.”
The two models won’t vanish overnight. Nautilus is scheduled to continue in production through the summer of 2023 and won’t be part of the Lincoln 2024 model year line-up, according to Sam Fiorani, a senior analyst with AutoForecast Solutions. The Edge will be phased out a year later, ending its run with the 2024 model year.
A crowded market
According to Fiorani and other sources, there are several reasons why the two crossovers will go away. To start with, they don’t have the sort of brand equity Ford would worry about losing.
“It’s a crowded market and they’ve been squeezed out by products both above and below them,” said Fiorani, one of the only analysts willing to go on the record. “They have to put a lot of money on the hood (as incentives) to get them out of the door. They could move a buyer up or down (to other products) and get a little more volume and a little more profit.”
In the case of the Ford brand, the belief is models like the Escape and Explorer, along with the newer Bronco and Bronco Sport models, can more than fill in when Edge exits.
It’s not a strategy everyone agrees with. One insider pointed to Toyota as an example of how some brands continue to slice and dice the SUV market into smaller and smaller niches. The Japanese automaker is about to launch the Corolla Cross in-between its existing C-HR and RAV4 models.
Eleven BEVs in the works
There’s yet another element to the Ford strategy. The automaker has aggressively shifted its approach to electrification, this year announcing a 250% bump in the investment it had outlined previously. Along with its first long-range BEV, the Mach-E, and all-electric versions of the F-150 pickup and Transit van, Ford has 11 battery-electric SUVs in the works. And those will both replace existing models while also carving out some new niches.
In some cases, existing models will go all-electric or, as with Mustang and Mustang Mach-E, get electric “brand extensions.” One example is the upcoming Lincoln Corsair-E, said Fiorani.
For its part, Automotive News identified two BEVs coming for Lincoln. One would be the electrified Corsair. The other appears to be the all-electric replacement for the Edge.
As part of its recent deal with Unifor, the Canadian equivalent of the United Auto Workers union, Ford agreed to a complete makeover of the Oakville, Ontario assembly plant currently producing the Edge and Nautilus models. Going forward, the plant will now produce only EVs. It isn’t clear if that will include other new electric models, but Ford certainly will have a number of them coming.
A different approach
Ford is expected to continue offering a mix of different electrified powertrains through this decade and into the 2030s. That’s in contrast to some manufacturers — notably crosstown rival General Motors, which is shifting entirely to BEVs. It’s more in line with Toyota’s strategy of marketing conventional and plug-in hybrids, as well as pure electric products.
But Ford will have the opportunity to accelerate its switch to BEVs since it will have at least four separate BEV platforms to choose from. That includes the homegrown GE2 architecture developed for the Mustang Mach-E, as well as the TE1 truck platform that will go into production for the second-generation Ford F-150 Lightning coming in 2025. (The initial version debuting next year will use a modified version of the conventional F-150’s platform.)
Ford also will base at least two small models for Europe on the Volkswagen MEB architecture. That’s part of a joint venture the two automakers announced in 2019. Meanwhile, Ford also plans to launch a t least one future BEV on a platform it will get through its alliance with EV Rivian. The start-up was originally planning to help develop a large Lincoln SUV. That product was scrapped but Ford says Rivian’s technology will underpin another one of its future models.