Ford is embracing hybrids because it’s losing billions on electric cars

  • Ford executives said the automaker is working on a range of new hybrid models.
  • The comments run somewhat counter to recent reports from the Detroit automakers.
  • “What the customer really likes is when we take a hybrid system that’s more efficient for certain duty cycles and then add new capabilities because of the batteries,” CEO Jim Farley said after the company’s second-quarter earnings report.

Ford Motor Co. shows a new 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck at the Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, September 17, 2020.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Take note, hybrid fans: Ford Motor is working on a slew of new hybrid models.

“You’re going to see a lot more hybrid systems from us,” CEO Jim Farley said Thursday after the company reported second-quarter results that showed widening losses in its electric vehicle division.

The comments run somewhat counter to recent reports from the Detroit automakers, which have touted the performance and popularity of all-electric favorites as the industry moves to meet EV targets. However, the hybrid hype is more in line with the global leader in hybrid vehicles, Toyota, which has drawn criticism for what some saw as resistance to the transition to electric vehicles.

To be clear, Ford isn’t backing away from its much-touted EV push, though it said on Thursday that the EV ramp-up may take longer than previously expected.

But even as it spends billions to ramp up EV production, it plans to bring more hybrid options to market, driven by the success of its current gasoline-electric options.

“We’re frankly surprised by the popularity of hybrid systems for the F-150,” Farley said on Ford’s second-quarter earnings call. More than 10% of F-150 pickup customers choose the hybrid model, Farley said, and that percentage is growing.

Ford also offers a hybrid version of its small Maverick pickup. That’s been an even bigger success, Farley said, with more than half of Maverick buyers — 56% — choosing the $1,500 optional hybrid powertrain over the standard four-cylinder engine.

But why double down on hybrids when the industry is taking a big step towards pure EVs?

“What the customer really likes is when we take a hybrid system that is more efficient for certain duty cycles and then we add new capabilities because of the batteries,” Farley said.

Among those new capabilities: Ford’s “Pro Power Onboard” system, which gives customers the option to tap the truck’s electricity through outlets in the cargo box to power tools at a job site – or a refrigerator at a tailgate party – eliminating the need for a separate power generator.

An available 7.2 kilowatt onboard generator that Ford calls the “Pro Power Onboard” has four 120V 20A outlets and one NEMA L14-30R 240V 30A on the 2021 Ford F-150.


“We see a lot of customers like that combination of using the batteries for something other than just moving the vehicle,” Farley said. “And so we just listen to the market.”

Ford has been heavily promoting the capabilities of its battery-electric F-150 Lightning pickup, which has the ability to power an entire home for several days.

Ford may have determined, in hearing from customers, that the popularity of that option outweighs a willingness to go all-electric. As executives noted Thursday, EV adoption is slower than expected.

So in the meantime, Ford can offer energy-hungry but wary EV drivers an in-between option, with hybrid options across the internal combustion engine range.

“But don’t think of them in the traditional sense of an Escape hybrid or a (Toyota) Prius,” Farley said. “They’re probably going to show up differently than most people think.”

“And customers like that.”

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