Ford Delays Next-Gen EVs, Bringing Hybrids Higher Up Its Priority List

EVs aren't as hot as automakers hoped they'd be, so hybrids are the near-term compromise

Ford says it is still working on an affordable small EV as well as a three-row SUV and truck.

While automakers were gung-ho to get as many new EVs to market as quickly as possible, the market at-large isn’t responding as fervently as they hoped. In the short-term, they’re instead pivoting toward hybrid vehicles, and shifting priorities toward bringing more affordable (and mass-marketable) EVs to the forefront. The latest case in point of that approach is Ford, which just announced its “retiming” plan for the launch windows of several upcoming electric vehicles.

It’s worth noting that Ford Motor Company is not cancelling any plans here. Instead, it’s shifting the launch of a three-row SUV (think competitor to the Rivian R1S and Kia EV9) back to 2027. It originally planned to launch the vehicle from its Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada next year. The automaker says the extra time will “allow for the consumer market for three-row EVs to further develop and enable Ford to take advantage of emerging battery technology, with the goal to provide customers increased durability and better value.”

Whatever you make of that statement, further context helps put the situation into perspective: U.S. electric car sales grew just 2.7% in the first quarter of 2024, while manufacturers expected a meteoric 47% rise. The overall EV market share also declined to 7.1%, so while folks are still buying EVs in increasing numbers, more folks are shying away from pure battery power, at least for now.

Ford also opted to delay its next-generation electric truck set to go into production at its “BlueOval City” plant in Tennessee (shown below) to 2026. The company says the delay will “help assure quality” and that it will gradually ramp up production as it starts customer deliveries in two years.

In the meantime, expect to see more hybrids

Ford also took the opportunity in its Thursday statement to reaffirm its development of a smaller, more affordable SUV. A “skunkworks” team in California is working on a new EV platform capable of supporting multiple, high-volume vehicles led by former Tesla Model 3 engineering leader Alan Clarke.

While it gears down its EV rollout, Ford also said it will emphasize hybrid options across the product stack. “As the No. 2 EV brand in the U.S. for the past two years,” says CEO Jim Farley, “we are committed to scaling a profitable EV business, using capital wisely and bringing to market the right gas, hybrid and fully electric vehicles at the right time.”

To that end, Ford aims to hybridize its entire lineup by no later than 2030, building on its current Escape, Maverick and F-150 hybrid offerings. The company did discontinue its electrified Explorer (the non-police version, at least) and Lincoln Aviator models after the 2023 model year. It’s unclear whether we’ll see another hybrid Explorer offering with the updated version beyond the 2025 model year, or if one of the new EVs on its three-row platform will be its replacement, and therefore will shift the Explorer from the internal combustion side of its business operations (Ford Blue) to the electric side later in the decade.