Inside the Ford division charged with making good on its EV plans
Ford is building its electric vehicle future from an old garment factory in urban Detroit. The space, located in Motor City's historic Corktown neighborhood, is home to Team Edison, a 55-person unit the sole job of which is to make good on the automaker's $11 billion promise to bring 40 electrified vehicle models to market by 2022. The office is part of a new urban campus Ford is developing to lure young talent.
Ford has "literally thousands of people working on electrified products," says Mark Kaufman, Ford's global director of electric vehicle marketing and distribution. "But this group lives electric vehicles 24/7."
Ford has yet to detail its marketing and launch plans for the EV onslaught, which will include a model inspired by its iconic Mustang nameplate. The vehicle "is going to go like hell," Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford boasted last month at a Crain's Detroit Business lunch. "When we first started talking about electrification, there was this thought that there had to be a tradeoff: It was either going to be green and boring and no fun, or really exciting but burn a lot of fossil fuels," Ford said, according to a report in Automotive News. "Electrification has come to the point that you can do both."
Team Edison—the name is inspired by the relationship Thomas Edison had with Henry Ford—operates more than 10 miles from Ford's suburban Detroit corporate campus. "The real intent was to get a little bit of that startup behavior in a company that has been around awhile," Kaufman says, noting that the unit includes Ford veterans as well as new hires from outside the auto industry. Cross-functional teams work from rolling desks in an open floor plan. "By design, there's not a lot of privacy, so you can overhear conversations," Kaufman says.
Tasks include crafting go-to-market plans for the EVs. "We know this consumer is younger, much more tech-savvy. So we know we have to go to market in different ways," Kaufman says. That means more digital marketing and less traditional advertising.
"I wouldn't be looking for a massive TV campaign out the door," he says. "Younger consumers have different ways they're finding out about new products. And we need to be much more relevant in those ways than the way we have brought products to market in the last 20 years."