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Ford’s product plans veer off the asphalt, toward electrification

There’s been a lot of news out of Ford lately, starting with a shakeup in the CEO’s office last spring that has set in motion a number of changes to its product lineup plans, especially for the fast-changing U.S. market. Most recently, new CEO Jim Hackett has unveiled a new strategic plan that will see the automaker slash a whopping $ 14 billion in spending on things like product engineering and car development to refocus on trucks, SUVs, electric vehicle and autonomy. Now there’s a bit more clarity on its future product plans, which focus on more off-road-capable vehicles.

Car and Driver reports that Ford plans to play to its regional strengths, developing nameplates for North America including the new Ranger pickup and EcoSport crossover, and the all-new Bronco SUV globally. The Ranger makes its return to North America as a 2019 model, while the Bronco will follow in 2020.

The publication reports that Ford will also cut spending on internal-combustion engines by a third to shift capital to electrification, adding to $ 4.5 billion in previously announced investment in the technology. As we’ve reported, that investment sees Ford building 13 new electrified vehicles over the next five years, including a hybrid version of the venerable Mustang and its bread-and-butter F-150 pickup, which it says will be able to serve as a mobile power generator on job sites. It also plans a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van, hybrid Police Responder, hybrid autonomous vehicle and a fully electric small SUV.

Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, told C/D the company will focus on utility vehicles outside of North America, including “urban-utility products” in Europe. Ford on Wednesday said it has begun production of its new EcoSport (pronounced like “echo”) crossover at its assembly plant in Romania in response to rising European demand for small SUVs. Previously Ford had imported the vehicle from a plant in Chennai, India. In Asia, it plans to expand its utility lineup to include larger, three-row SUVs and “C-plus” larger midsize segment.

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