Ford Will Keep Building ICE Trucks and Mustangs Because EVs Can’t Do It All

Change is clearly coming to Ford, but internal combustion still has a place in the company’s lineup.

byPeter Holderith|
Electric Vehicles photo

The doom and gloom surrounding what seems like the last days of internal combustion can be a lot to bear. That doesn't change the attitude of governments or indeed the reality of the climate, though. Many still worry the shift to electrification is happening too quickly; Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is a vocal critic of the rapid transformation. Now Ford's chief executive Jim Farley has laid out concrete plans to keep internal combustion as a key part of the company's business, at least for some vehicles. 

Farley provided a few key quotes at a presentation to investors and media Wednesday morning. The first is that internal combustion engine development will continue where it's appropriate and that Ford will see a "revitalized ICE business." That could mean new engines for Super Duty trucks, "icons" like the Bronco, and importantly, Ford's last car standing: the Mustang. Farley indicated that a key factor in boosting profitability for the company is reducing warranty costs, and as a result, this new generation of engines will be "radically simplified," according to the CEO.

Now, gas and diesel powertrain simplification may not sound like something that will work well with a more environmentally friendly future. After all, much of the complexity of modern engines has to do with eking out efficiency and maintaining low emissions. However, as Ford North America's Product Communications Director Mike Levine says, the part of Ford's business that will continue to develop internal combustion engines, "Ford Blue," will also be developing hybrid vehicles, including plug-in hybrids. A simplification on the internal combustion front may be met with a growing integration of far simpler electric drivetrain components. 

Hybrids may become the norm then—the Maverick could be the first step in this strategy—but Ford's CEO was clear: strictly electric drivetrains aren't ready for some of the tasks that vehicles like Super Duty trucks do on a regular basis. "A lot of ICE segments are not served well with electric vehicles," Farley said, specifically noting tasks like hauling and towing. Furthermore, the ICE side of Ford's business is currently where the lion's share of the profit is generated. Abandoning engine development is just not on the table if the company wants to pay for an electrification push, and indeed Farley made it clear that Ford Blue profits will be used to fund "Ford Model e," the EV and software arm of the company. "Ford Blue will build out the company’s iconic portfolio of ICE vehicles to drive growth and profitability," the presentation's associated press release states. As a result, it will "Support Ford Model e and Ford Pro," Ford Pro being the company's commercial vehicle arm. 

How these now-fragmented sections of Ford's business will operate together is yet to be seen. By extension, how this system will work to create better electric and ICE vehicles is an unknown. To get a guarantee that many vehicles in Ford's lineup will remain powered by internal combustion is definitely a relief for many, though. Ford clearly believes that, at least for the next several years, more traditional gasoline-burning vehicles will remain relevant—they might just have to be hybrids.

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