Ford has said that every Mustang Mach E electric SUV it sells will make money for the company. The secret of its confidence? Sharing battery cells with the upcoming electric Transit van, thereby ensuring the cell production line is running at maximum capacity.
The strategy was essential to controlling the battery cost, said Ford's head of global powertrain purchasing, Lisa Drake, on the sidelines of the CES electronics show in Las Vegas.
The battery cells for the Mach E and Transit vehicles are made by LG at its plant in Poland where LG installed battery lines dedicated to Ford.
"When you fill a cell line to exact capacity that is your lowest price. You never, ever want it to be idle," Drake said.
The line for the Mach E and the Transit will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The strategy ran counter to Ford's normal way of working.
"Normally we develop each product program with its own market equation, then we see if we can share components," Drake said. "But because the battery is the most expensive part of the car, we looked at the battery cells' optimal costs, and look to see where we can share it across other products. It was the opposite way of thinking."
She said that the way the Ford architecture was set up means the Mach E could share cells with a "completely different product in a completely different segment."
Ford unveiled the Mach E at the Los Angeles auto show in November. It plans to build 50,000 units a year with production starting at its Cuautitlan plant Mexico later this year.
Ford has worked to increase the consumer of appeal of the car to attract customers who might be otherwise be put off by the price. The design was switched halfway through its cycle from what one Ford insider described as a 'Focus EV mark 2’ to an SUV that took design cues from arguably Ford’s most famous car, the Mustang. The Mach E's technology includes a giant, portrait-sized 15.5-inch screen.
The Mach will cost between from 47,000 euros ($52,131) in Germany, rising to 62,000 euros for the 300-mile (480-km) range model. U.S. prices start at $43,895.
Ford has promised performance surpassing that of a Porsche 911 sports car, with the fastest model said to accelerate to 60 mph (97 kph) in around three seconds.
Ford said last year the electric Transit would go on sale in 2021, without revealing more details.