How do you top a massive trimming of platforms and saving billions of dollars? You do it all over again, cutting development costs even more. That’s what Ford is doing, trying to drop to just five platforms to span the globe.
Former Ford CEO Allan Mulally’s One Ford plan played a big part in how Ford Motor Company was able to survive the 2008 recession and avoid the bankruptcies that GM and Chrysler saw. Prior to the plan, Ford had more than 30 different vehicle architectures worldwide. That meant that the company made completely different underpinnings for similar cars intended for different parts of the globe. Ford had multiple platforms under its same-size cars, dependent on where the car was sold. Having several midsize sedan platforms, as an example, is highly inefficient. It was more expensive to design and reduced savings from large-scale parts sharing.
So Mulally introduced One Ford. Instead of 30 platforms, Ford would slash development to just nine. If a car was being designed for one market, the automaker wouldn’t develop another car completely separately for sale somewhere else. It saw massive cost cuttings at Ford, saving the company an estimated US $25.5 billion over five years.
Higher sales on fewer platforms meant lower development costs and increased parts sharing. It also meant better cars for consumers. After all, it’s the plan responsible for the new Mustang having an independent suspension and a gear shifter that was good. It’s also how Ford could bring us the Focus RS and Fiesta ST.
Now it’s time for Version 2.0. Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s head of product development and purchasing, talked about the new plan to Automotive News last Wednesday at a presentation in New York.
“This is not saying One Ford was wrong. This is building on the strategy of One Ford and evolving from it,” Thai-Tang said. The One Ford plan helped with global scale, but it didn’t help at the local level. It’s fine if you’re importing a vehicle from somewhere else, but it doesn’t help if you want to make multiple vehicles where you are.
The new plan calls for just five vehicle platforms. Rear drive body-on-frame (think F-150), front/all-wheel drive unibody (sedans and crossovers), rear/all wheel drive unibody (Mustang), commercial van unibody (Transit), and a unibody platform for EVs.
With the new plan, Ford is hoping that it can save another US $7 billion in development and engineering costs. It’s also hoping to bring a vehicle from drawing to dealership in 20 percent less time.
Expect more vehicles on those platforms, as Ford has said it will be bringing more vehicles in non-traditional body styles to North America, keeping it in the entry-level market as the company phases out sedans.
From left, Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president, product development and purchasing; Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, North America; Molly McQueen; Bill Ford, Jr., executive chairman, Ford Motor Company; Jim Hackett, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company; Diane Miller, Ford test planner; Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of global markets; and Sean Kiernan surround the all-new Ford Ranger during media days at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.
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