Automotive Engineering - March 2021 - 24

Engineering
FORD'S
FUTURE

Ford's new 500,000-ft2 EV plant at the Dearborn
Rouge complex will build HEV and BEV versions
of F-150 beginning mid-2022.

Prepping for unibody pickup
News of the chip shortage halting production at Ford full-size truck
plants has overshadowed the company's success with its expansive compact-unibody platform. C2, as it's known, has turned out to be a milestone architecture with impressive " stretch. " It's underpinned the Focus
sedan, mainstream Escape/Kuga utilities, and brings surprising off-road
capability to the recently launched Bronco Sport. The real measure of
C2's greatness - a compact unibody pickup - is in the near-term pipeline.
" C2 is all about the upfront planning: defining the bandwidth of eventual products that would use that architecture and making sure we account for it, " Thai-Tang explained. In moving to C2 from the previous C1,
then Ford's largest volume (about 2 million units globally) architecture,
the company decided to eliminate its midsize C/D platform, migrating
the larger-size vehicles into the C2. The move was part of a strategy to
slash Ford's total number of vehicle platforms from 14 in 2007 to just
five architectures today. " That mandated greater flexibility in ride height,
wheelbase and width, as well as payload and off-road capability - the
upfront work that enabled us to do products like Bronco Sport, " he said.
Thai-Tang's predecessor as product-development chief, Derrick Kuzak,
often reasoned that small pickups like the compact Ranger cost nearly
as much to build as full-size trucks but earn far less margin. And unibody
pickups, currently limited (in North America) to Honda's Ridgeline, bring
compromises. With just one combination of cab and cargo bed, " what
you see is what everyone is going to get, " Thai-Tang acknowledged.
24 March 2021

Without divulging detail about a future product,
Thai-Tang set an encouraging stage for Ford rekindling
the high-volume compact pickup segment that it once
dominated. " We've certainly demonstrated the 'Built
Ford Tough' capability with Bronco Sport, so that
won't be a compromise, " he said. " The success of
[midsize] Ranger shows it's not going to cannibalize
F-Series. And, we need to have products that are more
affordable. So, stay tuned, " he said.
Assembling another C2-based compact truck in
Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant (unconfirmed at this
writing) where Bronco Sport is built would bring cost
savings in manufacturing scale and materials. There's
also shared engineering efficiencies in such a program,
Thai-Tang noted. " From the first C2 Focus to the most
recent product we're working on, we're seeing about a
64-percent reduction in engineering, tooling and
equipment, " he reported.

Charged on EVs
Of the five Ford vehicle architectures, the newest is
dedicated to battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and underpins the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. Officially a utility,
Mach-E was engineered with a smaller polar moment
of inertia than is typical of long-wheelbase EVs carrying a large battery. Vehicles with long wheelbase are
good for stability but not for agility said Thai-Tang,
himself a skilled hot-shoe who began his career in
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

FORD MOTOR CO.

While Thai-Tang is confident the supply-demand equilibrium will
be achieved, the semiconductor shortage " will probably be with us
for the first half of this year, " he said.



Automotive Engineering - March 2021

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