‘Game changer’: Ford CEO touts new electric car manufacturer

The latest weather warnings have renewed calls for more electric cars.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is “living on thin ice” and called for “climate action on all fronts” earlier this week during the unveiling of the latest UN climate report.

The report said greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow as the chances of slowing climate change shrink – unless these emissions are significantly reduced by 2050.

Ford CEO Jim Farley unveiled the company’s plans to reduce those emissions, including its new green manufacturing plant and the factory’s first vehicle, an electric truck codenamed Project T3. Farley joined “GMA3” to discuss the plans and what they mean for the future of manufacturing.

DeMarco Morgan: The Secretary-General of the United Nations said that it will take a quantum leap and climate action to mitigate global warming. Can you tell us about the BlueOval City plant behind you and how a game-changer it is in your eyes?

Jim Farley: It’s a game changer for us. And good afternoon to you. A game-changer for us, because we’re really starting to expand the range of electric vehicles. We’re number two in the US, and with this plant, we’re not only adding 6,000 US jobs, but, you know, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of capacity and the plant will be completely green. All electrons powering the station will be green electricity. So it’s not just a story about an electric car. It’s actually a much larger story about modernizing and decarbonizing our American industrial industrial system.

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EVA PILGRIM: And today, Ford is announcing the first vehicle to be built at this factory, you now, electric vehicle codenamed Project T3. It’s a truck. What will we see that we haven’t seen yet in other electric vehicles? And when will it be launched?

Farley: Well, you know, the Lightning is the best selling electric pickup truck in the US, but this is going to be its successor and it’s going to be fully retrofitable. So on the air we will be able to change and improve the truck every day for our customers. And we think it’s going to be the first technology we’ll land on a sunny day on the highway where you’ll be able to sleep in your Ford truck. So we don’t have standalone passenger features where you know you’re going to get back the most precious thing in your life, which is time.

Morgan: And Jim, it’s no secret that Ford has embraced the electric vehicle market as bluntly as others, and yet electric vehicles have had their share of problems. About 18 Ford F-150 Lightnings had to be recalled for a battery fire problem earlier this year. There have been battery fires for Tesla, General Motors, BMW, Volvo have all had recalls due to electric vehicle fire risks. How can you assure people that your electric vehicles are safe?

Farley: Well, I mean, I’m very proud of Team Lightning. They stop producing. We have stopped producing batteries. We’ve done everything we need to do. We found that fire. It happened at Ford, not in the hands of customers. We did exactly the right thing. Unlike other brands, we have stopped production. None of them got out in the hands of customers. And that’s exactly what we need to do to build a trusted EV brand. We’ll also go into a battery chemo that has a lower risk, like the LMP battery plant we’re building in Michigan.

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Pilgrim: We should talk about money. Electric vehicles are expensive and more expensive than conventional cars. So if this is supposed to be better for our planet, how do you make these vehicles so affordable that everyone who wants them can have them?

Farley: Yeah, great question. This is obviously a great part of Ford. You know, we’ve democratized affordable cars, so that’s a big part of our DNA. I think the first part is we have to design the car differently to make it much simpler. We have to expand to hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands. Like today, we’ll have a more efficient distribution without inventory that we have today with our dealerships. And we have to build it with less work content. So we have to fundamentally change everything.

Morgan: Jim, before you go, the UN Climate Report says we have to halve global emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Are you optimistic that the world can reach this goal? Is it possible?

Farley: Companies like Ford can do what we need to do. It’s totally possible.

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