Ford Boosts Investment Plan for EVs and Self Driving Vehicles, Reports Loss

Ford
FILE PHOTO: A Ford Motor Co. banner is displayed outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co on Thursday more than doubled the amount of money it plans to invest in electric and autonomous vehicles, to $29 billion, even as it posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $2.8 billion.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker also said the global semiconductor chip shortage could lead to a 10% to 20% loss in first-quarter production.

For the year, Ford reported a net loss of $1.3 billion, or 32 cents a share, compared with a modest profit the previous year of 1 cent a share.

Ford previously said it expected a 2020 profit of between $600 million and $1.1 billion.

Ford had a loss in the fourth quarter of $2.8 billion, or 70 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.7 billion, or 42 cents a share, a year earlier.

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The company projected operating earnings would climb to $8 billion to $9 billion in 2021, compared with $2.8 billion last year. The 2021 figure includes a $900 million non-cash gain on Rivian, the electric vehicle startup in which Ford has invested, but does not include the effect of the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.

Vehicle production lost because of the chip shortages could lower Ford’s 2021 operating earnings by $1.0 billion to $2.5 billion, according to Chief Financial Officer John Lawler.

In pandemic-ravaged 2020, Ford’s total revenue fell to $127 billion, from $156 billion in 2019.

Ford ended the quarter with nearly $31 billion in cash and $47 billion of liquidity, compared with almost $30 billion and more than $45 billion respectively in the prior quarter.

The company’s operating margin in the fourth quarter was 4.8%, compared with a full-year target of 8%. Ford said it is targeting an 8% operating margin this year, including 10% in North America and 6% in Europe.

Ford said it was “doubling down” on connected electric vehicles, saying it will invest $22 billion in electrification through 2025, nearly twice what it had previously committed to EVs.

Ford also said it will invest $7 billion in self-driving, or autonomous, technology development over 10 years through 2025 –$5 billion of that from 2021 forward.

“We are accelerating all our plans,” Chief Executive Jim Farley said in a statement, including increasing battery capacity and adding more electric vehicles in its future portfolio.

CFO Lawler told reporters: “If EVs continue to quickly gain favor, especially with commercial customers, we want to be clear that we will not cede ground to anyone.”

Ford previously committed to invest $11.5 billion in electrification, including gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, through 2022. That included the launch of the Mustang Mach-E EV crossover, and electric versions of the F-150 pickup and Transit van.

U.S. rival General Motors Co has said it will spend $27 billion by 2023 on electric and autonomous vehicles. It said it plans to offer 30 EVs globally by 2025 and is targeting topping annual sales of 1 million EVs in the United States and China by 2025.

Reporting by Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Dan Grebler; Reuters

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