Ford’s internal combustion engine vehicles division, known as Ford Blue, will go through several changes in the next months in a bid to minimize production costs and maximize profits.
As a result of this strategy, the total number of orderable combinations for the Ford F-150 pickup will be reduced dramatically in the next few months, and the 2024 model year will feature about 2,400 fewer parts than the current model, according to Ford Blue’s president, Kumar Galothra, who detailed the company’s plan during an interview with Automotive News.
“In the coming months, we're going to reduce the orderable combinations on the F-150 by a magnitude that we've never seen before. Less complexity means fewer parts,” said Galothra. “From one model year to another, we're taking about 2,400 parts out of the F-150. That means many fewer parts to engineer, test and manage quality on.”
But the optimization doesn’t stop here. The Explorer SUV will go through a similar diet, with Ford Blue’s president saying that the company currently has a total of 500 combinations of cable harnesses, a number that will go down to less than 20 in the next few months.
Gallery: 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor: Review
Other seemingly unimportant things have also been tweaked, which resulted in massive savings for the Michigan-based carmaker. Changing the material spec for the front rails, mounts, and exhaust manifolds saved roughly $30 million per year while removing a cable that was necessary to pull vehicles through the assembly line that was different between two manufacturing plants saved an additional $11 million annually.
“Our costs are uncompetitive. We have to reduce both our material costs as well as our structural costs,” said Galothra. “We're taking a multipronged approach. Let's talk about contribution cost, which is the bill-of-material cost. We're benchmarking a lot of our competition and working with our suppliers to lower that part of our costs.”
Speaking about the life cycle of a vehicle in the context of focusing more on the software, Ford Blue’s chief says that the platforms will have longer lives and sheet metal will have less spending. In other words, new generations of certain models will live for longer and possibly have more than one facelift during their lifetime.
“In the past, our industry has spent a lot of money on changing stampings to make the products look sometimes dramatically different and sometimes only slightly different,” explained Kumar Galothra for Automotive News. “The customers are valuing software more and more. And the beauty of that is with over-the-air capability, you can offer the customers all kinds of exciting stuff as the ownership experience goes on year to year.”
As for how much the ICE business will continue to grow, compared to Ford’s EV division (known as Ford Model e), Galothra thinks that the portfolio of gasoline and diesel vehicles is less exposed to the transition to EVs because there are still few EV charging stations off-road, where Bronco buyers spend a lot of time, and the range of EVs while towing is still an issue for typical pickup drivers.
“Until the EV range with towing improves substantially and there is a much broader network of chargers, customers are going to continue to buy our ICE pickups and hybrid pickups that we make,” he said.
As always, we’d like to know what you think about this, so head over to the comments section below to give us your thoughts.