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‘A game changer’: Ford CEO touts new electric vehicle plant

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(NEW YORK) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the world is “on thin ice” and called for “climate action on all fronts” earlier this week while revealing the latest U.N. climate report.

The report said that greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow as chances of slowing climate change shrink — unless those emissions are cut drastically by the 2050s.

Ford CEO Jim Farley unveiled the company plans to reduce those emissions, including its new green manufacturing plant and the plant’s first vehicle, an electric truck codenamed Project T3. Farley joined “GMA3” to discuss the plans and what they mean for the future of manufacturing.

DEMARCO MORGAN: The U.N. secretary general says it will take a quantum leap and climate action to mitigate global warming. Can you tell us about the BlueOval City plant behind you and how it’s a game changer in your eyes?

JIM FARLEY: It’s a game changer for us. And good afternoon to you. Game changer for us, because we’re really starting to scale EVs. We’re number two in the U.S., and with this plant, we’re adding not only 6,000 American jobs, but, you know, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of capacity and the plant will be completely green. All the electrons that power the plant will be green electricity. So it’s not just a story about an electric vehicle. It’s actually a much bigger story about modernizing and decarbonizing our American manufacturing industrial system.

EVA PILGRIM: And today, Ford’s announcing the first vehicle to be built at that plant you’re at today, an electric vehicle codenamed Project T3. It’s a truck. What are we going to see that we haven’t seen yet in other EVs? And when will it roll out?

FARLEY: Well, you know, our Lightning is the best-selling electric pickup in the U.S., but this will be its successor and it will be fully software updatable. So over the air we’ll be able to change and improve the truck every day for our customers. And we think it’ll be the first technology we’re going to land where on a sunny day in the highway, you’ll be able to go to sleep in your Ford truck. So we don’t have autonomous features for commuters where you know you’re going to get the most precious thing in your life back, which is time.

MORGAN: And Jim, it is no secret that Ford has clearly embraced the electrical vehicle market as have others, and yet EVs have faced their share of problems. About 18 Ford F-150 Lightnings had to be recalled for a battery fire issue earlier this year. There have been Tesla battery fires, GM, BMW, Volvo, all had recalls due to EV fire risks. How can you assure people that your EVs are safe?

FARLEY: Well, I mean, I’m so proud of the Lightning team. They stopped production. We stopped the battery production. We did everything we needed to do. We found that fire. It happened at Ford, not in customer’s hands. We did exactly the right thing. Unlike other brands, we stopped the production. None of them got out in customer’s hands. And that’s exactly what we have to do to build a trusted brand on EV. We’re also going to diverse battery chemistry that has less risk, like the LMP battery plant we’re building in Michigan.

PILGRIM: We have to talk about money. EVs are expensive, more expensive than traditional cars. So if this is supposed to be better for our planet, how do you make these vehicles affordable so everyone who wants one can actually have one?

FARLEY: Yeah, great question. And that’s a big part of Ford, obviously. You know, we democratized affordable vehicles, so that’s a big part of our DNA. I think the first part is we have to design the vehicle differently to be a lot simpler. We have to scale to hundreds of thousands from tens of thousands. Like today, we’re going to have a more efficient distribution without inventory like we have today with our dealers. And we’re going to have to build it with less labor content. So we have to change everything, basically.

MORGAN: Jim, before you go, the U.N. climate report says we have to cut global emissions in half by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Are you optimistic that the world can reach that goal? Is it possible?

FARLEY: It’s possible if companies like Ford do what we’ve got to do. It’s absolutely possible.

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