EXCLUSIVE Ford set to announce plans to run EV, ICE as separate businesses -sources

By Paul Lienert, Ben Klayman and David Shepardson

March 1 (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Wednesday will announce a reorganization under which its electric vehicle (EV) and internal-combustion engine (ICE) units will be run as separate businesses in a move to fast track growth in EVs, three people familiar with the plan said.

The EV and ICE businesses will have separate names but will remain under the Ford corporate umbrella, in the same way the company operates its Ford Pro commercial business for corporate customers, said the people, who asked not to be identified.

Ford spokesman T.R. Reid declined to comment on the report. “We’re focused on carrying out our Ford+ plan to transform the company and thrive in this new era of electric and connected vehicles,” he said.

In response to reports Ford was weighing a full spinoff of its EV business, Chief Executive Jim Farley last week said the company had no plans to spin off either its EV or ICE businesses. read more

“We know our competition is Nio and Tesla, and we have to beat them, not match them,” he said last Wednesday at a Wolfe Research conference. “And we also have to beat the best of the ICE players.”

However, by separating the EV business into a separate unit, Ford would be setting the table for a possible spinoff down the road, industry officials said.

Companies such as General Motors Co (GM.N) have resisted those calls, arguing that ICE profits will fund the transition to EVs.

Ford’s expected move echoes one outlined earlier this month by French automaker Renault (RENA.PA), which said it was looking at creating separate divisions for its EV and ICE businesses. It said the EV business could be focused on France, while the ICE operations could be focused outside France. read more

Farley also said last week that Ford’s EV and ICE businesses were underperforming on an earnings basis, adding that costs could still be cut from the ICE business.

“We have too many people, we have too much investment, we have too much complexity and we don’t have expertise in transitioning our assets,” he said of the ICE business. “That’s the simple answer. There’s waste.”

He also said Ford needed to add more people to improve profit margins for its EV busines, including in such areas as electrical components, advanced electrical architectures and the digital customer experience.

Candidates to run the businesses could include Ford’s chief advanced technology officer Doug Field, who was hired from Apple Inc (AAPL.O); Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform and operations officer; Lisa Drake, chief operating officer of North America; and Kumar Galhotra, president of the Americas and International Markets, industry officials said.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Richard Pullin