In the case of Model e, that will include developing connected vehicle technologies and other related software across the Ford family.
Is the sky falling? Have we had enough of misunderstanding the news?
So, to explain, Ford is not exactly splitting up into two entities. They are creative two channels within the Ford brand. One division called Ford Model e will concentrate on electric vehicles; the other – called Ford Blue – will sell internal combustion engine-powered “iconic” models. A third division, called Ford Pro, was already established as a channel for commercial vehicles.
Makes sense? Not really.
The Ford+ plan is to induce scalability and profitability for the brand and the company. They will retain the business of developing new products within each silo. In the case of Model e, that will include developing connected vehicle technologies and other related software across the Ford family.
The voices out of Dearborn are calling this a “transformation.” I’m not sure what to call it. It’s not the first time we’re seeing similar pronouncements across the automotive industry.
Yet, I am questioning this one. Not because of Ford. There is more to it.
There has been a universal push to create sub brands for specific groups of models as a way to market them to select demographics. This has been standard practice going back to the late 1920s. You might not remember La Salle, but the sub brand was a way for Cadillac to affordable luxury at their dealerships.
Some of these sub brands work, such as La Salle which lasted from 1927 to 1940. Others did not have that kind of staying power. Such examples come from Ford – Edsel, for example. Need I say anything about Edsel?
Currently, Jeep has spawned Wagoneer as a channel for their truck-based premium/luxury SUV line. This is the most overt example currently on the market. There are other examples – some not as overt until you see specific signage inside the showroom. Mercedes-Benz’s AMG is a prim e example of this practice.
The way the Ford+ strategy was sold upon everyone was to simply divide Ford-badged vehicles into separate selling units. One perception that it would look like something similar to what the major Japanese automakers have done for decades in their home market.
Or, they could simply keep the current Ford dealership network and sell all three channels there. That would be more confusing to the consumer, if the “divisions” were overtly marketed with the Blue Oval logo or corporate script as the primary identifier.
No one can fault Ford’s willingness to sell electric vehicles and other plug-in electrified models. Their portfolio is growing, and consumers are lining up to get one of the most prized EVs coming soon to the dealerships – the F-150 Lightning.
The notion that you can create “divisions” to divide the lineup into silos at the same dealership might face some backlash from the retail network. A good example would be what happened at Cadillac. They wanted push their future electric lineup to every Cadillac store in the USA. Those who did not want to sell the Lyriq and its future stablemates were given a buyout option, no matter if they were standalone stores or conjoined with another General Motors brand at the same dealership.
The result of Cadillac’s dealership attrition was that 150 dealers out of 880 in the USA elected to take the buyout rather than spend $200,000 for upgrades to become EV compliant.
While Jim Farley made his pronouncement about the new “divisions” at Ford, I wondered out loud why he didn’t name one of them named Mercury? Maybe not to lose sales of either “division?” There’s a joke somewhere…
To be honest, I have no clue how this will go down. This is not just a North American plan – this thing is going global.
Will it be beneficial for Ford to “accelerate” their future through these “divisions”? That remains to be seen. I’m sort of hedging towards the middle – maybe it’ll work; maybe not. We shall see…
All photos by Randy Stern