All major automakers are about to begin reimagining their business models as we drift toward a world dominated by electric and hybrid automobiles. Some manufacturers will lean into luxury, some into sport, and some into comfort; just as they do, now. But will all consumers welcome the change in technology? And what’s the best way to reach the wary buyer who thinks electric engines are weak, undependable, or inefficient for his business?
Ford sees the inevitable change in the market and wants to stake its claim to a very loyal but oft-overlooked customer base: the small business owner. Ford CEO Jim Farley recently sat down with Fox Business Network to outline the company’s latest marketing outlook for its electric line.
“Now we want to move into the services business, and those customers, most of them are small business. They own five or six vehicles or are a plumber, electrician. They are underserved customers with data and telematics,” Farley said.
Ford electric offerings will go beyond just a car sale
But Ford sees an opportunity to serve small business owners beyond just point-of-sale. Farley said the company wants to assist with all aspects of the transition into electric for a business, including telematics and financing.
“[Small businesses] don’t have good financing options. They have to pick from all sorts of smaller telematics companies that aren’t integrated into the vehicle… And they have no idea how to charge these vehicles” he said.
To assist this overlooked but burgeoning sector of the economy, Ford created Ford Pro, a tech sector of sorts, powered by Salesforce Cloud. Ford Pro will offer commercial customers services ranging from physical repairs, financing, charging energy, and software. The rapid technological integrations at Ford of late have caused their share price to surge nearly 80 percent in the past 12 months.
Tesla is still top-dog in the electric vehicle space; but other manufacturers will catch up in their own ways. For Ford, providing service vehicles cheaper and more quickly than a boutique company like Tesla may make all the difference. Ford said that they want to target small businesses, and yet a few big businesses are also taking notice of the future. Walmart has already ordered 1,100 electric transit vans from Ford.
Major manufacturers trying to change quickly in the market
To keep up with the inevitable demand, Farley said his company had to scale quickly.
“We’ve committed to 600,00 units in 22 months from now,” he said. “We’ve already doubled or tripled our production so that the vehicles coming out are already coming out now. Some competitors will be out in a couple years, but we’re out in the market today.
“We’ve also electrified our most iconic vehicles. The best-selling vehicle in the United States for four decades has been F-Series, and that’s going electric with Lightning. We know the customers really well, and we’re scaling now [to prepare for the future].”