Ford's business will gradually transition from its internal combustion vehicles to battery electric vehicles, but combustion vehicles will continue to grow for the next few years, CFO John Lawler told Cheddar News.

"Over time, we do see the transition between internal combustion engines — gas vehicles — to [battery electric vehicles] but that's going to be over time," he said. "We still see growth for [internal combustion engine] businesses over the next few years."

That optimism comes in spite of a $2.1 billion loss that Ford's electric vehicle division reported in 2022. The company anticipates the segment will lose an additional $3 billion in 2023, as it works toward profitability in 2026.

Lawler joined "Wake Up with Cheddar" after the automaker announced a major change in the way it reports financials. Instead of reporting geographic results, the new format will break out financials for three customer-facing groups. "Ford Blue" will include its traditional gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles like the F-150 and Mustang. "Ford Model E" includes all electric vehicles, and "Ford Pro" includes commercial vehicles and fleets. The company is framing this shift as a whole new Ford.

"What we've done in creating Ford Blue, Ford Model E, and Ford Pro is far more than an accounting exercise. After 120 years, we've essentially refounded Ford," Lawler said on a call with the press on Wednesday evening.

Following the change, Ford also reviewed what 2021 and 2022 financials would have looked like in the new format. Whereas the Model E segment lost about $2.1 billion, Ford Blue and Ford Pro brought in $6.8 billion and $3.2 billion, respectively. 

Lawler justified Model E's losses as par for the course for electric vehicles, describing the segment as a "startup that was buried inside of Ford Motor Company."

"Like all electric vehicle startups, you lose money at first as you're building scale, as you're designing your products, as you're growing and building share," he said.

The company's path to achieving 8 percent EBIT margin by 2026 in the Model E segment will be facilitated by scale and design efficiency for things like batteries, Lawler said. The company also plans to shave about $3 billion in structural costs from the company's balance sheet by 2026. Lawler said reducing design complexity and increasing reuse and commonality would be "some of the main levers" to cut those costs.

Ford was one of the biggest producers of electric vehicles in 2022, second only to Tesla. In spite of all the buzz around EVs, Lawler emphasized that Ford is still focusing on all three of its segments.

"Right now all three businesses are growth businesses," he said.

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