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Is Ford Making The Right Model Moves In The Face Of Chinese, Domestic Competition?

Ford looks to Tesla as its chief competitor after studying Chinese models. Is Ford making the right moves?

The other day, Torque News examined Ford’s thinking about new models and found that the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker is seriously considering its overseas competition.

Looked At BYD, Liked What They Saw

Indeed, we found that Ford CEO Jim Farley was taking a severe look at BYD’s low-cost Seagull. On looking closely at the Seagull, they found that it had a good, solid build, and though it lacked a few amenities—a second windshield wiper, for example—It was a good value.

Related story: Is Ford Making the right market moves?

Indeed, the Seagull that they looked at was priced at about $11,700, far below the price point of most domestically produced electric vehicles (EVs).

Today, we are taking a closer look at Ford’s electric vehicle planning thanks to DaxStreet, a general auto information site.

One of the key takeaways from this deeper dive into EVs is that the automaker has reportedly put a hold on its three-row EV SUV. The hold will allow Ford to focus on a “new platform for compact and budget-friendly EVs. " This emphasis is a “rising tide of competitively priced electric vehicles from China,” forcing Ford into a new strategy.

Ford Is Studying a New Model For 2026

According to Bloomberg, Ford's “new approach emphasizes compact and affordable electric models, with a compact crossover slated for 2026 at a starting price of approximately $25,000.”

Ford believes this move will put the automaker into a position where it will compete with the “upcoming entry-level Tesla models and respond to the growing demand for affordable electric vehicles.” Looking closely at this statement, Ford is doing business as usual. It is worried about the threat posed by Tesla’s upcoming models. At the same time, it lets the rest of the EV market slide, even as it has already acknowledged that the Chinese manufacturer BYD has a solid vehicle in the Seagull, which costs half as much.

Another related story: Ford makes the right moves in the face of competition or does it?

Is this a winning strategy? Perhaps for a narrow market segment here in the U.S., but it seems as if Ford is ignoring the real competition in favor of the competition it wishes to see (Tesla).

Looking at its plans, the upcoming SUV “will be built on a fresh electric platform, with development headed up by a specialized team of fewer than 100 experts based in Irvine, California. Ford’s ambitious in-house plan also calls for the automaker to introduce [another] small truck – perhaps a pickup of the trendy compact Maverick hybrid. Finally, Ford sees the need for a “dedicated ride-hailing vehicle.”

Ford Spells Out Whole Lineup

To contain costs, the “compact EV is expected to utilize lithium-iron-phosphate battery tech to keep costs down,” This type of tech is “known for its affordability compared to traditional lithium-ion tech.  traqdition lithium=ion

To keep costs down, the compact EV is expected to utilize lithium-iron-phosphate battery technology, which is known for being affordable compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries. However, Ford is also exploring alternative battery technologies to reduce costs further.

Alan Clarke, a former Tesla engineering guru involved in Tesla’s Model Y, Tesla’s affordable EV project, has signaled Ford’s commitment to delivering competitive electric vehicles.

Hybrid competition: Here are some competitive hybrids to think about

Alan Clarke, formerly involved in engineering the Tesla Model Y, leads Ford’s affordable EV project, signaling the company’s commitment to delivering competitive electric vehicles.

Three-Row SUV Shelved For Now

And, completing this circle, so to speak, Ford’s plan “for a three-row electric SUV, which was speculated to revive the iconic Explorer nameplate in the electric realm for now has been shelved..

Despite the launch of a small electric crossover in Europe under the Explorer name, using the launch of a small electric cross in Europe under the Explorer, which employs VW’s MEB platform, Ford’s focus remains on its forthcoming

Meanwhile, Ford’s plans for a three-row electric SUV speculated to revive the iconic Explorer nameplate in the electric realm, have been sidelined for now. Despite the launch of a small electric crossover in Europe under the Explorer name, using the Volkswagen MEB platform, Ford’s focus remains on its forthcoming compact EV lineup.

In all of this planning for future models, Ford still has to keep its eye on other brands from outside the U.S. BYD seems set to compete here with a great price advantage that Ford isn’t meeting right now. Perhaps the Dearborn automaker should factor this into its planning, too?

Ford Motor Photo

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.