Ford estimates it left $2B "on the table" with Mach-E Mustang


“We didn’t know that our wiring harness for Mach-E was 1.6 kilometers longer than it needed to be. We didn’t know it’s 70 pounds heavier and that that’s [cost an extra] $300 a battery,” he said on a call with investors Thursday. “We didn’t know that we underinvested in braking technology to save on the battery size.”

But they know now.



If you read the history of Henry Ford and the Model T, you’d see an iterative process again and again, although the car was presented to the public as “the same” year after year. One of Ford’s biggest problems was getting the engineers to ‘lock down” a design so production could begin, but soon enough they would find some improvement - the best, of course, were those which saved on raw materials or production costs or which sped up the line or whatever - it took a serious kick to get Hank to agree to a production freeze before another design lock-down, but the idea was that each Model T was the same as the last, as the last, as the last.

Volkswagen took it in a different direction with the Beetle, proclaiming that they made changes to make the car better each year, not for styling, but otherwise, same thing.

Not a big surprise that the first versions of the big manufacturers cars aren’t right, that they are learning, and that they are making mistakes. As I noted elsewhere, Tesla sold its first cars, a whopping 937 of them in 2009; they didn’t really ramp production until 2014-15, by which time (presumably) most of the kinks had been worked out. And now they’re championing a whole new process which they say will cut production costs again.

Back to Hank, even though the cars were different he was in love them them, and destroyed his son Edsel’s attempt to radically update the Model T with something that turned out to be the Model A. By the time he finally agreed GM styling and “pricing ladder” had surpassed Ford and didn’t look back for almost a century.

Ford has become known for shoddy design and production in recent years. In 22, Ford led the industry in the number of recalls issued. My tendency is to lay this at the feet of Jim Hackett, CEO from 2017 to 2020. Hackett did the same thing when he was CEO of Steelcase, as I heard installers and project managers comment, often, how shoddy Steelcase product had become under Hackett’s “leadership”.

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It’s hard to believe that “1.6 kilometers” is accurate. That is one mile. 1.6 meters is more likely.

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I don’t have the inside story here, but am just adding some info for clarity. The 1.6km IS NOT having a harness that is 1.6km too long.

It’s a TOTAL of many little “excesses”. It’s not uncommon to have 20 wires in a wiring harness. Maybe improved harness routing would save 150mm in total length. There’s 3 meters right there. Another harness might have a dozen wires replaced by multiplexing, saving 15 wires times 3 meters. It goes on and on.

I agree, 1600 meters seems like a lot. But Ford (and no doubt others) have been hampered by a multitude of “design standards” that promote commonality (supposedly in the quest for lower costs) at the expense of a lot of other things. I don’t doubt there is a ton of room for improvement.

Don’t even get me started on the chimneys within the organization that promote individual targets at the expense of the whole.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.