“A game changer”: Ford CEO launches new electric car factory

The latest climate warnings renew demands for more electric vehicles.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world is “on thin ice” and called for “climate action on all fronts” earlier this week as he unveiled the latest UN climate report.

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

Ford CEO Jim Farley unveiled the company’s plans to reduce those emissions, including its new green manufacturing facility 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 production.

DEMARCO MORGAN: The UN Secretary General says they will take a quantum leap and climate action to curb global warming. Can you tell us about the BlueOval City facility behind you and how it is a game changer in your eyes?

JIM FARLEY: It’s a game changer for us. And good afternoon to you. Game changer for us, because we are really starting to scale electric cars. We’re number two in the United States, and with this facility we’re not only adding 6,000 American jobs, but, you know, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of capacity and the facility will be completely green. All the electrons that power the plant will be green electricity. So it’s not just a story about an electric vehicle. It is actually a much larger story about the modernization and decarbonization of our American manufacturing industrial system.

EVA PILGRIM: And today, Ford is announcing the first vehicle to be built at the factory you’re at today, an electric vehicle codenamed Project T3. It’s a truck. What will we see that we have not yet seen in other electric cars? And when does it roll out?

FARLEY: Well, you know, our Lightning is the best-selling electric pickup truck in the United States, but this will be its successor, and it will be fully software upgradeable. So over the air we will be able to change and improve the truck every day for our customers. And we think that will be the first technology that we’re going to land where on a sunny day on the highway you’ll be able to lay down in your Ford truck. So we don’t have autonomous features for commuters 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 clearly embraced the electric vehicle market like no other, and yet EVs have faced 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 Tesla battery fires, GM, BMW, Volvo, all had recalls due to EV fire risk. How can you reassure people that your electric cars are safe?

FARLEY: Well, I mean, I’m so proud of the Lightning team. They stopped production. We stopped battery production. We did everything we needed to do. We found that fire. It happened at Ford, not in the customer’s hands. We did exactly the right thing. Unlike other brands, we stopped production. None of them ended up in the customer’s hands. And that’s exactly what we need to do to build a trusted brand on EV. We’re also getting to diverse battery chemistries that have less risk, like the LMP battery plant we’re building in Michigan.

PILGRIM: We need to talk about money. Electric cars are more expensive, more expensive than traditional cars. So if this is supposed to be better for our planet, how do you make these vehicles affordable so that everyone who wants one can actually have one?

FARLEY: Yeah, great question. And that’s a big part of Ford, obviously. You know, we democratized affordable vehicles, so that’s a big part of our DNA. I think the first part is that we have to design the vehicle differently to be much simpler. We need to scale to hundreds of thousands from tens of thousands. As today, we will have a more efficient distribution without inventory as we have today with our dealers. And we have to build it with less work. So we have to change everything, basically.

MORGAN: Jim, before you go, the UN climate report says we need 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 that goal? Is it possible?

FARLEY: It’s possible if companies like Ford do what we have to do. It is certainly possible.

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