No one knew secret behind Ford's Mustang Mach-E, Bronco Sport — until now

The Bronco Sport was not on Ford's original plan.
It started out as a boxy, boring, inconspicuous, unforgettable little SUV.
Definitely not part of a legendary Bronco family.
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And the Mustang Mach-E SUV should initially be a cautious toe in the water for an automaker that presented its first fully electric vehicle. It is designed to meet the company's fuel economy goals.
Now every SUV has a waiting list.
Bronco Four Door (left), Bronco Two Door (center) and Bronco Sport (right) on display while Mark LaNeve, Vice President of Ford Motor Company, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, spoke to media in 2020 at the upcoming Bronco Day event Holly Oaks Offroad Park in Holly, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan on August 11, 2020.
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Bronco Sport 2021 report owners are treated like Hollywood royalty. And the impressive off-road driving features were designed to challenge the Jeep and do justice to the qualities that make the Bronco one of the most valuable collector's cars in history.
Buyers are asking for the Mach-E; A dealer in California reported 40 orders in a single night. It too had to have the power and driving experience of a nameplate that defines the company.
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Nobody knew
The dramatic change of direction began 3 1/2 years ago without any public discussion.
Jim Hackett, who was named CEO in May 2017, decided to bring Jim Farley back from Europe and appoint him President of Ford's Global Markets. Farley jumped into the new role this summer.
Behind the scenes, Hackett and Farley divided new product programs into three categories: so far in the pipeline that there could be no significant and significant changes, quite far, but not so far that no changes could be made, and only the beginning with a lot of flexibility.
Bronco Sport and Mach-E fell in the middle category; It wasn't too late to revise.
Ford wanted to evaluate the products in the pipeline, see where improvements could be made, and be confident that it was developing the right products for a dynamic consumer environment.
Hackett wasn't thrilled. In the Mach-E prototype, he saw an electric vehicle with a high roof and few interesting features. Designers showed their sketches and clay models.
A design rendering of the all-electric SUV that was considered before Mach-E joined the Mustang family.
Ford executives felt this was not a breakthrough. Ford realized that competitors would soon be flooding the market with all-electric vehicles. The 117-year-old car maker had to attract attention.
Their all-electric vehicle wasn't exciting at the time.
An early design rendering of the all-electric SUV that was considered before Mach-E joined the Mustang family.
"It was just a car," said Ted Cannis, Ford's global director of electrification, in a 2019 corporate video.
Farley added, "The first time I saw it ... I said, 'Oh boy. Houston, we have a problem.' The vehicle looked like a scientific project. "
Chris Walter, Mach-E exterior design manager, said, "I thought, who's going to buy this car?" ""
Here is an overlay of early design renders of the all-electric SUV that were considered before Mach-E joined the Mustang family.
Debra Hands, aerodynamics supervisor, said, "It wasn't exactly an SUV. It wasn't exactly a sedan."
Hackett said, "We tore up the existing prototype. We said, 'We want to start over.' ""
Farley enters
Jim Baumbick, lead product developer on both projects, told Freie Presse on Tuesday that while all vehicles have a natural evolution, they are unique in that they are linked to two well-known brands. Farley was "a huge part of the inspiration" in his role as a global marketplace.
It was about identifying and capitalizing on obvious product strengths in a crowded market, Baumbick said. "The designs we had wouldn't do that. There's nothing unique about them."
'Controversial'
Mark Truby, Chief Communications Officer, who attended a few meetings. said: "Jim Farley was instrumental in pushing the team towards the Mustang. ...
"It was a difficult area and controversial. Farley said, 'What if we could use the Mustang as a spiritual guiding star for this vehicle?' And the designers had to work, "said Truby. "They had all of these examples of more Mustang, less Mustang. It led to Mustang Mach-E."
All-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUVs will be loaded onto car transporters on December 19, 2020 after being assembled at the Ford plant in Cuautitlán, Izcalli, Mexico.
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The man who put his fingerprints on the design and pushed the designers to step out of their comfort zone and break new ground was very Farley, Truby said. But it was Hackett who asked the team to re-examine the product line.
Hackett and Farley had to say to Bill Ford, "We're thinking about doing something." And Ford, the company's CEO and long-time fan of the classic Mustang, said, "You don't play with the Mustang, do you?"
All-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUVs will be loaded onto rail vehicles on December 19, 2020 after being assembled at the Ford plant in Cuautitlán, Izcalli, Mexico. The delivery of the vehicles to customers in the USA is planned for this month.
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Bill Ford has publicly admitted that there was no way his initial reaction was.
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Hackett, Farley, and Ford met repeatedly. Ford said it would take a lot of persuasion to get him to change the silhouette of the pony car. They knew it was going to be controversial, and it did.
All-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E SUVs will be shipped to rail vehicles on December 19, 2020 after being assembled at Ford's Cuautitlán, Izcalli, Mexico facility.
At the beginning of 2019, Hau Thai-Tang, long-time head of product development, was supported by the three executives on the 12th floor of the Ford World Headquarters. The walls were covered with pictures of the vehicle, the Mach-E lined up with other Mustangs to illustrate how it was compared, along with market research and the business case in an otherwise empty conference room.
The team went through it step-by-step with Bill Ford and helped him get used to the idea. He asked difficult questions.
Bill Ford, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company, stands in front of the 2011 Ford Mustang Boss 302 during the Woodward Dream Cruise kick-off breakfast on August 20, 2010 at Duggan's Irish Pub in Royal Oak.
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Farley acknowledged the discomfort and Ford stated that he was warm to the idea but wanted to drive the vehicle and see it in the flesh.
"The designers were unleashed," recalled Truby. "We had a lot of debates about the Mach-E with Mustang references or as far as putting the pony on the badge and calling it a Mustang."
At that point, Farley, a former Toyota executive, said that new Ford products simply need to have a strong identity, opinion and attitude. He wanted sharper design and new technology. If a Ford didn't have a blue oval, it wanted consumers to recognize it anyway.
The Mach-E debuted at the LA Auto Show in November 2019.
Mustang Mach-E means the Mustang coupe is going nowhere and will help Ford keep the Mustang GT with a 5 liter V8 as Mach-E has a positive impact on fuel economy. The Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition reaches 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.
Baby Bronco is born
Then, when Farley turned to the upcoming midsize SUV in the pipeline, he led a team of executives who came up with the idea of ​​making Bronco a family rather than just the traditional two-door and four-door Bronco. As a result, Bronco Sport has been redesigned to reflect the rugged classic Bronco.
"I love getting in the design dome and arguing about the design of a vehicle," Farley told his cousin during a Tracy podcast, "Digging in with Tripp," which aired November 10th.
"In business, when you run an organization, people often say that you're a coach. I think it's more like a ship captain in some ways," Farley said. "It can't just be a meritocracy. You need someone to make the call."
Hackett hired Joe Hinrichs to manufacture it in April 2019 and Farley with "autos 2.0" and the future. The move "accelerates progress" in reshaping its global business and reinvigorating products, the company said in a press release.
Nobody really knew what that meant at the time.
Farley was named Chief Operating Officer in February 2020 and CEO in October 2020.
Now Farley is leading the product launches that he brought to life.
"He wants to spend time in the design studio and in product development to understand the thinking," Truby said.
After the early production of Mustang Mach-E surfaced, engineers had to ask Bill Ford to return the one he tested.
Edmunds recently rated the Mach-E as superior to Tesla, Porsche and Audi in the luxury SUV category. The Bronco Sport's first rides have stunned reviewers, including Free Press critic Mark Phelan, former President of the North American Auto, Utility and Truck of the Year Jury.
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Wall Street analysts note this.
"The executive can help shape the narrative, and there is also part of it that can be traced back to the execution," Dan Levy, an analyst at Credit-Suisse, told the Free Press. "As for Farley, I think there has been some optimism that he can change some of Ford's missteps. People are confident that things will change."
Industry analysts noted what they referred to under Hackett as "profit compression," which now requires cost cutting and realignment.
"Farley is driving this house forward. The focus at Ford is on the perspective of winning franchises now like Bronco and Mustang. And they are focusing on things that matter," Levy said, noting that he is from the perspective of Investment speaks community. "According to Ford's own statement, investors haven't really excited in recent years, although they give a very attractive overview of the extent of the improvement opportunities."
Keri Ynclan, a construction company controller from Schertz. Texas is among the first to own the Ford Bronco Sport 2021. She bought it on December 1st, 2020. This photo was taken outside her New Braunfels, Texas office on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.
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Challenges in recent years have been self-inflicted wounds, including costly, problematic starts and skyrocketing warranty costs.
Reuters reported that Ford's warranty costs totaled $ 3.87 billion for the first nine months of 2020, while General Motors, a Crosstown rival, spent $ 1.68 billion.
It is these problems that Farley must overcome, Levy said. From 2016 to 2019, analysts are looking, because 2020 was a financial roller coaster ride for companies finding their way through the global pandemic. During those four years, Ford saw a dramatic decline in overall earnings, despite Ford's core market and products in North America, including the F-150, selling well, Levy said.
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"There was some frustration with the Ford story through 2020," he said. "What Farley brings with him is a much-needed sense of urgency and accountability at Ford. He's the auto guy, so he's clearly going to be much more hands-on with the business than we've seen with Jim Hackett. I think investors have gotten better appreciate Ford's potential under Jim Farley. Even if restoring and executing the strategy are facing challenges. "
Farley has publicly recognized these challenges.
Jim Farley, then Executive Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln for Ford Motor Company, and Alan Mulally, then CEO, at their Ford Product Development Center in Dearborn on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.
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Other industry watchers praised Farley as he finished a tough year:
"Farley moves fast. Hackett moves slowly. Farley makes his expectations clear. Hackett was vague. Farley has the experience of understanding Ford's immediate problems," said Erik Gordon, professor of strategy at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
"Ford's return to monthly sales reporting shows the optimism that Ford has in launching a variety of new products. It also shows the responsibility of having a new CEO who wants to be more transparent and communicate with investors," said Michelle Krebs, chief analyst at Autotrader .
"In companies as big as Ford, change is difficult. (Former CEO) Alan Mulally has been an excellent leader for Ford by giving and maintaining clear directions. All of the people I've spoken to really like Farley's open style of communication and believe he has it. " It's a similar approach to Alan, "said Jeoff Burris, founder of Advanced Purchasing Dynamics in Plymouth, an advisor on the supply chain for auto suppliers primarily in North America.
New CEO, new style
Ford has changed its pace by moving from a manager who retired from Steelcase office furniture in Grand Rapids to Farley, who drives classic cars and is actively involved on Twitter.
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Jack Telnack, designer of the Automotive Hall of Fame, isn't surprised by Farley's influence on the Mustang Mach-E and Bronco sports.
"People like Jim Farley support design because they understand design. He reminds me of Bob Lutz, who could go into a studio and look at a clay model and get excited. Jim Farley is that guy," said Telnack After a successful career, which included work on the Mustang, he retired in 1998 as Ford vice president of global design.
In 1978, the car designer Jack Telnack stood with a Mustang Cobra in the Ford Motor Company's production studio.
“These people are the early adopters. They know the trends, the way the market is moving. I wish I were there today and work with them. When you see that kind of excitement from one of the top people "You want to support him. You want to do more," said Telnack.
"I think you're going to see dramatic changes in the company with Farley. He understands the buyer. You have to have gasoline in your blood to understand that. And he has it."
Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more about Ford and subscribe to our auto newsletter.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Ford had no plans to build a Bronco family or an all-electric Mustang

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