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

Auto specialists say the electrical F-150, often called the Lightning, have to be successful if Ford is to thrive within the age of electrical autos. Introducing this truck now’s equal to “betting the corporate,” mentioned William C. Ford Jr., the corporate’s govt chairman, who’s a great-grandson of Henry Ford. “If this launch doesn’t go properly, we are able to tarnish all the franchise.”

The corporate has amassed about 200,000 reservations for the vehicles, but it surely might nonetheless stumble. Manufacturing might be slowed by the worldwide chip scarcity or the surging prices of lithium, nickel and different uncooked supplies essential to batteries. The software program that Ford has developed for the truck might be flawed, an issue that hampered sales of a new electric Volkswagen in 2020.

Ford and Mr. Farley do have some issues going for them. In contrast to many different electrical automobiles, the F-150 Lightning is comparatively inexpensive — it begins at $40,000. Tesla’s most cost-effective automotive is the compact Mannequin 3 sedan, which begins at greater than $48,000. The Lightning has tons of storage, together with an enormous entrance trunk, which is interesting to households and companies with massive truck fleets. And it helps that Tesla is not going to start making its Cybertruck till subsequent 12 months.

And Ford can also be already within the E.V. recreation with the Mustang Mach-E, an electrical sport utility automobile. It had gross sales of greater than 27,000 in 2021, its first 12 months available on the market, and gained favorable evaluations.

Manufacturing of the F-150 Lightning is scheduled to begin subsequent Monday. Competing fashions from Common Motors, Stellantis and Toyota — Ford’s major rivals in pickups — are no less than a 12 months away. Rivian, a more moderen producer that Ford has invested in, has begun promoting an electrical truck however is struggling to extend manufacturing.

“If the Lightning launch goes properly, we have now an unlimited alternative,” Mr. Ford mentioned.

In some ways, Mr. Farley checks many of the containers on the subject of main a big U.S. automaker. Like Mary T. Barra, the chief govt of G.M., whose father used to work on a Pontiac meeting line, Mr. Farley has household roots within the business: His grandfather labored at a Ford manufacturing facility. On visits to his grandfather, he would tour Ford crops and different websites necessary to the corporate’s historical past. As a 15-year-old, he purchased a Mustang whereas working in California one summer season and drove it residence to Michigan with out a license. His grandfather nicknamed him “Jimmy Automobile-Automobile.”

However like Mr. Musk, a local of South Africa who was a founding father of PayPal and different corporations, Mr. Farley has had a diversified profession and been concerned in creating companies. Born in Argentina when his father was working there as a banker, Mr. Farley, 59, additionally lived in Brazil and Canada when he was rising up. His profession began not within the auto business however at IBM. He spent a protracted stretch at Toyota. He helped the Japanese automaker overcome its status for making boring and economical automobiles by engaged on its fledgling Lexus luxurious model, now a powerhouse.

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