A few words in the Financial Times have served to raise all kinds of rumors and conjecture: Ford is studying an alternative to Volkswagen’s MEB platform. What roads do you have? What sense is there behind using two platforms of different origins? Differentiation may be one of them.
an alliance. In 2018 Ford and Volkswagen reached an agreement: both companies could share the MEB platform for electric vehicles. The idea was that Volkswagen would allow the construction of Ford vehicles on it, the second being in charge of assembling them and providing them with the final image of each one of them.
A way of working that is well known within the Volkswagen Group with its well-known MQB platform. It is only necessary to look at a Volkswagen Golf, an Audi A3 or a Seat León and verify how, in its structure, the interior of all the models keep important similarities. Similarities that each brand is in charge of minimizing with its own materials and, in the dynamic, particular settings of each firm.
on the right track. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction for the Volkswagen and Ford alliance. In the transition to electric cars, brands have had two options: adapt the combustion platforms to the new technology or have a platform developed exclusively for these cars.
To achieve a distinctive electric car, in most cases the best thing has been to invest in its own platform. But it was also a much more expensive process. That Ford had the possibility of assembling its cars on a platform devised by another manufacturer was logically seen as a good alternative. They did not need to create electrics tied to a combustion platform and, at the same time, they had an exclusive platform for electrics without the development costs that this entailed.
In March we learned that Ford’s intentions were to launch seven new models on the market before the end of 2024. Four of them would be commercial vehicles and another three would be for sale to individuals. Two, at least, will arrive on the MEB platform. The electric Ford Puma, however, will not be chosen.
What if…? We are looking at something else, they must be thinking about Ford. Because Martin Sander, Ford Electric Vehicle Development Manager in Europe, has pointed out in the Financial Times the possibility of developing a new electric platform of its own. “We are exploring all possible options, see how far we can go and what segments we can cover with it,” he stressed.
And it is that the first (and so far only) Ford’s fully electric model has been a success. The Ford Mustang Mach-E has been a sales success but it has a problem: it has not stopped seeing its price increase. So much so that, despite everything, it has ceased to be profitable due to the enormous increase in the price of raw materials.
hard to fit. The problem is that the MEB platform begins to have a difficult fit for Ford. The brand has assured that it will bet on vehicles with a higher price and lower sales volume. In fact, I wouldn’t be expecting a best-selling electric alternative any time soon. At the moment, the only expected alternative in this regard is the electric Ford Puma that has been developed on a combustion platform.
And, furthermore, the MEB platform is designed for that segment of small and medium-sized cars, just the segment that Ford does not seem to be thinking about. With other added problems. Software problems are being a constant with this platform. And not only that, the platform was born with a death date as the SSP platform will serve to develop future connected and electric cars of the Volkswagen Group.
if you want the best. It will have to be paid. It is the path that Ford can choose. If the Ford Mustang Mach-e has been a sales success, it has been partly due to its excellent set-up, with one of the sportiest models on the market. In other words, a car that has a personality of its own, far from the constant standardization towards which the market seems to be headed.
Ford can count on vehicles on the MEB platform for the masses, which have low costs and do not pose a problem when it comes to sharing similarities with Volkswagen models. But, if you want a differential vehicle, Ford seems determined to offer it at a premium price.
It is a path that Porsche and Mercedes have already taken, which seem willing to go it alone in the electric car market. Being different has its risks and forces you to sell more expensive vehicles than the competition. Being differential is the challenge to be pursued by Ford if it wants to follow this path.
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