Jim Farley Tries to Reinvent Ford and Catch Up to Elon Musk and Tesla

Auto experts say the electric F-150, known as the Lightning, must be successful if Ford is to move into the age of electric vehicles. William C., executive chairman of the company. Ford Jr., Henry Ford’s great-grandson, said the introduction of the truck now was tantamount to “betting on the company.” “If this projection doesn’t go well, we could tarnish the entire franchise.”

The company has accumulated about 200,000 reservations for the truck, but it could still stumble. Production may slow down due to global chip shortages or rising costs of lithium, nickel and other raw materials critical to batteries. The software that Ford has developed for the truck may be defective, a problem that will hamper sales of the new electric Volkswagen in 2020.

Ford and Mr. Farley has a few things for him. Unlike many other electric cars, the F-150 Lightning is relatively inexpensive – it starts at 40,000. Tesla’s cheapest car is the Compact Model 3 sedan, which costs more than $ 48,000. The Lightning has tons of storage, including a huge front trunk, which attracts families and businesses with large truck fleets. And it helps that Tesla won’t start building its cybertruck until next year.

And Ford is already in the EV game with the electric sport utility vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E. It had sales of over 27,000 in 2021, its first year in the market and received favorable responses.

Production of the F-150 Lightning is set to begin next Monday. Rival models from General Motors, Stellantis and Toyota – the main competitors in Ford’s pickups – are at least a year away. Rivian, a new manufacturer in which Ford has invested, has started selling electric trucks but is struggling to increase production.

“If the lightning projection goes well, we have a huge opportunity,” Mr. Ford said.

In many ways, Mr. Farley checks most of the boxes when it comes to leading the big US automaker. Mary T. Like Bara, GM’s chief executive, whose father worked on the Pontiac assembly line, Mr. Farley has a family background in the industry: his grandfather worked in a Ford factory. During his grandfather’s visit, he visited Ford plants and other important sites in the company’s history. At age 15, he bought a Mustang while working in California one summer and drove it home to Michigan without a license. His grandfather nicknamed him “Jimmy Car-Car”.

Even as Mr. Mr. Musk, a native of South Africa who was the founder of PayPal and other companies. Farley’s career is diverse and he is involved in creating businesses. Born in Argentina when his father was working as a banker there, Mr. Farley, 59, also lived in Brazil and Canada when he was growing up. His career did not start in the auto industry but with IBM. He spent a long time in Toyota. He helped the Japanese automaker break his reputation for making boring and economical cars by working on his new Lexus luxury brand, which is now a powerhouse.

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