In a strategic move aimed at accelerating its electric vehicle (EV) agenda, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has allegedly initiated an internal marketing campaign encouraging all 186,000 employees to partake in a week-long test drive of the new F-150 Lightning or Mach-E models, according to X/Twitter user @cybrtrkguy.
If true, the initiative should offer employees the choice to experience the EV lifestyle by either living with or embarking on a road trip with a pickup or crossover for a span of seven days. @cybrtrkguy also noted that Ford CEO Jim Farley is currently on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on an F-150 Lightning.
Although the authenticity of the information remains unverified, letting employees test drive “vehicles of the future” isn’t new for the company.
In 2008, when the company was down nearly $9 billion (in 2008 dollars) in second-quarter sales as it was transitioning from trucks to a wider car lineup, it brought 4,000 workers out from their desks at sites near the Dearborn headquarters to a test track for a few hours of driving.
The goal then was to show employees how the carmaker hoped to let its vehicles stand out from the rest in the market — to “boost confidence that Ford has products coming that people will want to buy,” according to an NBC report about the event.
This time around, Ford likely wants a version of the same thing, especially after it had to cut 3,000 jobs in 2022 in its push for EVs. Just months after the pivot in March, Ford became the number 2 EV seller in the US. The company announced that it would increase production of its fleet of plug-in vehicles including the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning.
But there’s a long way ahead before the pivot becomes profitable. The carmaker reported disappointing EV financial results in the second quarter of this year when the unit’s operating loss soared to $1.1 billion from $700 million the previous quarter.
Ford now expects full-year 2023 EV operating losses to reach US$4.5 billion, a much wider loss than the US$3 billion management projected just three months ago. The company also moved back the time frame it expects to reach a 600,000-unit annual production rate to “sometime in 2024.” The company previously planned to achieve this pace by year-end 2023.
During its 2008 slump, Ford abandoned a forecast of being profitable again by 2009 and declined to give a projection for when it was going to make money again. That era’s test drives let employees see for themselves that “there’s a reason to believe we have a future.”
If true, this season’s longer test drives better let at least the employees see past the difficult next few quarters and into a future farther ahead.
Ford Motor Company last traded at $12.16 on the NYSE.
Information for this story was found via X/Twitter, The Verge, Reuters, NBC News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.