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福特给野马充电,将挑战特斯拉

Doron Levin 2019年11月24日

当前的车市已经进入了电动汽车和SUV当道的时代,福特野马这样的大排量跑车已显得格格不入。但福特绝不会坐视野马变成无人问津的“老马”。

成立一个多世纪以来,福特汽车公司已经生产了数百万辆汽车,其中不乏一些家喻户晓的车型,比如Model T、猎鹰(Falcon)、Fairlane、雷鸟(Thunderbird)、金牛座(Taurus)、蒙迪欧(Fusion)和F-150等等。但如果你要问福特旗下最独树一帜的车型,大部分人会毫不犹豫地回答:野马(Mustang)。

自从野马跑车在1964年的纽约世博会上亮相以来,它便以平价、强悍、既实用(居然还有后排座位)又不实用(功率高达760马力)的形象,迅速成为了美国人民心中速度与激情的象征。在今年的大热电影《惊奇队长》(Captain Marvel)中,主角有一次闪回到她的年轻时代,当时在机库旁边,就停着她的那辆大红色的第一代福特野马。

但是光靠情怀是卖不动车的。在这个四门跨界车当道且电动汽车即将成为主流的年代,这样一台两门的烧油机器注定了只能是赔本赚吆喝的命。2019年前9个月,福特在美国一共卖出55,365台野马——美国也是该车型的最大市场。这个数据较上年同期下降了10%,大概只相当于F系列皮卡三个星期的销量。

For more than a century, Ford Motor Co. has manufactured many millions of vehicles with names like Model T, Falcon, Fairlane, Thunderbird, Taurus, Fusion, and F-150. But ask anyone which brand stands apart from the rest, and you’ll get the same answer: Mustang.

Since its introduction at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the sporty Mustang—affordable, powerful, as impractical (up to 760 horsepower!) as it is practical (it has a back seat!)—has developed into a pulse-quickening symbol of America’s particular obsession with the open road. Indeed, when the titular character in this year’s hit film Captain Marvel experiences a flashback to her younger days as a military pilot, she’s pictured outside the hangar beside her candy-apple-red, first-¬generation Ford Mustang.

But symbols don’t necessarily lead to sales, and the ’Stang—a two-door sports car in an age of four-door crossovers, a gasoline burner at the dawn of an electric age—has lately claimed more in the way of reputation than revenue. In the first nine months of 2019, Ford sold 55,365 Mustangs in the U.S., the model’s largest market. That’s down 10% from the same period last year, and about as many Mustangs sold in three quarters as Ford sells F Series trucks in three weeks.

福特全新野马Mach-E的前脸保持了家族式设计特征,只是弃用了老款的蜂巢式格栅——毕竟它不需要对内燃机引擎进行冷却。图片来源:PHOTOGRAPH BY MARVIN SHAOUNI
 

虽然如此,野马仍然是全球最畅销的运动轿跑,从第一代算起,野马的销量已经达到1000万台以上。那么,当这个世界已经不再痴迷于购买运动轿跑时,福特该怎么办?

福特的答案是野马Mach-E,这即便对于福特这家全球第六大汽车厂商也是一场豪赌。除了我们熟悉的“飞马”标志,整台车上几乎很难找到与老款相似的地方。野马Mach-E的线条较老款更加流畅,延长了前引擎盖的长度,行李厢的长度则相应有所缩短,以适应四个车门的圆润造型。新野马依然采用后轮驱动。它标志性的大排量内燃机引擎也被一台安静的电机所取代。(不过为了提醒行人和符合美国监管机构的要求,福特将为它配备人工提醒音。)它的零售价预计在4万美元的区间上,还可以享受7500美元的联邦补贴。这个价格比27000美元的汽油款高出不少,不过面对时下大卖的特斯拉Model 3却是有实力一战的。它的续航里程约为300英里,也与Model 3不相上下。

对于全球的野马粉们来说,Mach-E是一次不同寻常的尝试,很多人甚至可能将其斥为“异端”。前福特工程师、Navigant公司的汽车业分析师山姆·阿布萨米德认为:“我并不百分之百确信将这款车型冠上‘野马’的名字是个好主意。这样有可能会玷污这个品牌,我也不确定消费者会不会接受它。”

不过在福特看来,野马Mach-E是一款专门瞄准了2020年汽车市场的产品,它保留了野马的灵魂——平价(勉强算是)、强悍、既有点实用又不太实用。在全球汽车产业加速电动化和行业销量下滑的大背景下,没有一家汽车厂商是不受影响的。野马Mach-E正是福特为了顺应新趋势而大胆重塑造其品牌形象的试水之作。

Still, the Mustang remains the world’s bestselling sports coupe, and 10 million have sold since the first one rolled off the production line. So what do you do when the world isn’t terribly interested in buying sports coupes?

Enter the Mustang Mach-E, a gamble so great for the world’s sixth-largest automaker that the galloping horse on the vehicle’s grille is one of the few things in common with its predecessor. The Mustang’s slinky silhouette—long hood, short rear deck—has been altered to accommodate the bulbous curves of a four-door, albeit still rear-wheel-drive, utility vehicle. Its signature snarl, courtesy of the internal combustion engine, has been replaced by the subtle whine of a battery-powered electric motor. (Ford will add an artificial sound for the benefit of unwary pedestrians and U.S. regulators.) It’s expected to retail in the $40,000 range with a $7,500 federal rebate, a substantial premium over the $27,000 gasoline-¬powered base Mustang but competitive with electric-auto maker Tesla’s popular Model 3 sedan. Its range is approximately 300 miles, also on par with the Model 3.

To Mustang fans around the globe, the Mach-E is an extraordinary, arguably heretical revision of what it means to be a Mustang. “I’m not 100% convinced badging this car a Mustang is a good idea,” says Sam Abuelsamid, a Navigant mobility analyst and former Ford engineer. “Calling it a Mustang has the potential of polluting the brand, and I’m not certain the audience will go for it.”

But to its maker, the Mustang Mach-E—aimed squarely at the heart of the automotive market in 2020—retains the spirit of the original: (almost) affordable, powerful, and a little bit practical and impractical. It is an electrified embrace of where Ford believes the world is headed and a daring move to reimagine its best-known brand in the face of industrywide sales declines that have left no automaker untouched.

 

《财富》采访福特汽车公司执行董事长比尔·福特

《财富》:野马这个品牌对你们意味着什么?

比尔·福特:它是有史以来我最喜欢的一款车型,我自己拥有很多台野马——在我10岁到15岁的时候。

Fortune: What does the Mustang brand mean to you?

Bill Ford: My favorite of all time. And I own a lot of them—between 10 and 15.

****

没有人要求福特非得搞一辆电动版的野马出来。福特本来可以搞一台实用性更强的电动汽车,然而给它安一个不那么美国味儿的名字,然后把它定位成一款零排放的家用车,就像日产Leaf、宝马i3、雪佛兰Bolt等等。问题是,这三款车型的销量也都不是很理想。

汽车网站Autoline的站长约翰·麦克尔罗伊指出:“特斯拉让汽车行业认识到,如果你的电动车型是一部为了满足严格的排放和燃油效率标准而设计的‘合规’车型,那一定是一场灾难。如果你想造电动汽车,它首先外型要好看,其次续航里程要长,再次要让人产生购买欲。然后你才有机会赚到钱。”

尽管特斯拉的知名度很高,但在美国,路面上行驶的电动汽车数量仍然相对较少,在约2.75亿辆注册的乘车辆中,电动汽车只有大约100万辆。但由于国内外制造商都面临着减排压力,美国及世界各地的电动汽车销量也都在逐年增长。据福特估计,到2025年,美国电动汽车年销量将增长至150万辆,车型种类将达100种以上。

No one asked Ford to mess with the Mustang. The automaker could have brought to market a far more utilitarian electric vehicle, given it a name that wasn’t already part of Americana, and positioned it to signal zero-¬emission virtue in the tradition of EV models such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, or Chevy Bolt. The problem: All three of those models have struggled with uninspiring sales.

“Tesla taught the industry that doing a ‘compliance’ car”—built mainly to satisfy stringent pollution and fuel efficiency standards—“is a disaster,” says John McElroy, host of the news and analysis website Autoline. “If you’re going to make an electric, it better look great, have good range between charges, and be desirable. Then you have a chance to make a profit.”

Despite the mindshare that Tesla enjoys, the number of EVs on American roads remains relatively small, representing 1 million of the approximately 275 million passenger-registered vehicles. But with manufacturers under regulatory pressure at home and abroad to limit carbon emissions, the number of EVs sold each year is growing, both in the U.S. and overseas. Ford expects EV sales to grow to 1.5 million a year in the U.S. by 2025, comprising more than 100 different models.

野马Mach-E车型左前叶子板上方的充电接口。图片来源:PHOTOGRAPH BY MARVIN SHAOUNI
 

不过很多消费者对电动汽车仍持谨慎乐观态度。调查显示,大多数老百姓认为电动汽车的车速太慢,在极端天气下表现堪忧,而且充电时间太长——福特认为这些传言是“以讹传讹”。真到了要掏钱买车的时候,连行业观察人士对电动汽车也不是很有信心。比如《底特律新闻》(Detroit News)的汽车评论员亨利·佩恩曾经表示,他对新能源车型“毫无兴趣”——直到他自己买了一辆特斯拉Model 3才“真香”了一把。

“特斯拉将电池和电机放在比较低的位置,因此它的重心也比较低,这正是一台跑车应有的素质。”佩恩还表示,特斯拉的软件也很有吸引力:“一切操作都可以通过触屏完成,而且车载软件的无线升级功能也很酷炫——就像你的智能手机一样。”

福特对汽车电动化并不陌生。虽然丰田的普锐斯(Prius)才是油电混合动力的先行者,但福特也没有落后很多,它在2004年就推出了混动版的Escape SUV,以省油为主要卖点。当时人们普遍认为汽油价格太高了,美国国内的环保主义情绪也在抬头,而且石油的重要性也在一定程度上让阿拉伯产油国绑架了西方国家的外交政策。当时市面上的多数混动车型卖得都很不错,而且混动车型的驾驶感受与传统燃油车大同小异,因此比较容易被驾驶员接受。

Still, consumers remain cautious. Surveys show a majority of the public believes that EVs are too slow, perform poorly in extreme weather, and take too long to charge—persistent concerns that Ford classifies as “myths.” When their own income is involved, even industry observers are skeptical. Henry Payne, an automotive critic at the Detroit News, says he had “no interest” in environmentally friendly cars—until he bought a Tesla Model 3.

“Tesla positions the battery and motors low, meaning a low center of gravity—just what you’re looking for in a sports car,” Payne says, adding that the car’s software-oriented experience also appeals: “Everything works through the touch screen, and the over-the-air updates to the car are unbelievable—just like your smartphone.”

Ford isn’t exactly new to electrification and its associated tradeoffs. The company’s first entry into the gas-electric hybrid cate¬gory, which was pioneered by Toyota’s Prius, was the 2004 Escape SUV. The goal in those days was to save energy at a time when gasoline was considered costly, environmental activism was on the rise, and fossil fuels seemed to place Western foreign policy at the mercy of Arab oil producers. Most gas-electric hybrid models sold well; drivers liked that the technology felt like that of a conventional car.

《财富》:你是福特公司创始人亨利·福特的曾孙,但也一直是一名环保支持者。

比尔·福特:1979年我刚到福特公司的时候,我对公司里一些人的无知感到震惊,他们对环保问题有明显的敌意。

Fortune: You’re Henry Ford’s great-grandson but also a longtime environmental advocate.

Ford: When I started at Ford in 1979, I was shocked at the lack of awareness among some people at the company. There was outright hostility to the discussion of environmental issues.

但是电池动力汽车是一个完全不同的东西。野马Mach-E将是福特的第一款专门基于大型锂电池和电机架构打造的车型。(之前,福特曾经在少量福克斯轿车和Ranger皮卡上安装了电池动力系统,以检测这套技术。)它的重量虽然有1200多磅,但它的电池组的布局很长、很宽,而且放置的位置很低,从而形成了一个较低的重心,并且加强了车身结构。福特计划将来在林肯(Lincoln)等豪华车型和其他电动车型上也使用类似架构。

如果野马的粉丝们担心电池动力不足以传承野马品牌的精髓,他们可能不知道电机的一个核心优势——瞬间爆发的大扭矩。汽油发动机有一个“扭矩曲线”,扭矩需要跑一会儿才能够达到峰值。而电动发动机的扭矩真正实现了“随叫随到”。这一点应该会吸引那些最关心Mach-E的冲刺能力的车迷。

But battery electric vehicles—BEVs—are a far different proposition. The Mustang Mach-E will be Ford’s first to be built on an architecture designed specifically for a large lithium-ion battery and electric motors. (Ford previously rigged a small number of Focus sedans and Ranger pickups with batteries to develop the technology.) Much like the Model 3, the Mach-E’s battery—which weighs more than 1,200 pounds—sits wide, low, and long in the vehicle, establishing a low center of gravity and strengthening the car’s frame. Ford plans to use the same architecture for a Lincoln luxury model and other future EVs.

If Mustang fans are doubtful that an electric powertrain could adequately carry on the brand’s traditions, consider a key property of electric motors: instant, all-encompassing torque. Unlike gasoline engines, which have a “torque curve” requiring some runway to peak, electric motors immediately offer all the accelerating force they have to give—a characteristic that might appeal to any Mustang fan concerned about the Mach-E’s sprinting abilities.

 
内饰最显眼的部分就是这块巨大的中控屏,它能像特斯拉的中控屏一样,对车内各系统进行集成操作,并且能够向司机和乘客发出非常显眼的信号。这也表明了这款野马的与众不同。图片来源:PHOTOGRAPH BY MARVIN SHAOUNI

福特的电动化全球总监泰德·坎尼斯表示:“这款野马一定会让消费者感到兴奋的,它甚至能够打败一辆保时捷Macan”。这是因为它从静止加速到60英里/时只需要6秒。(下一步野马还将推出一款GT版,它实现同样的成绩只需要4.5秒。)

另外,福特还对车辆的电子结构进行了重要升级。野马¬Mach-E将是福特第一款采用高速数据连接的量产车,从而使上图中的集成大屏和软件无线升级成为了可能——就像特斯拉一样。

坎尼斯坦承,他的团队里里外外借鉴了很多特斯拉的设计元素。不过,野马Mach-E能否引发和特斯拉Model 3一样的热情?它能够打破Model 3的50万辆的预售纪录吗?这还是一个未知数。

“This Mustang will excite consumers,” says Ted Cannis, Ford’s global head of electrification. “It will beat a Porsche Macan”—the German automaker’s compact sport utility model—“off the line’’ thanks to a zero-to-60 mph time of about six seconds. (A future GT version with a second motor will manage the feat in 4.5 seconds.)

On top of that is a serious upgrade to the vehicle’s electronic architecture. The Mustang ¬Mach-E will be Ford’s first production vehicle to employ high-speed data connectivity, making possible a large, data-driven dashboard display and over-the-air software updates—just like Tesla’s.

Cannis candidly acknowledges that his team drew heavily from Tesla’s playbook, inside and out. But an open question remains: Can Ford stoke the same level of enthusiasm for the Mustang Mach-E that Tesla elicited with its Model 3 and its 500,000 advance reservations?

《财富》:现在请谈谈野马Mach-E。

比尔·福特:我一开始是反对它的。但是我们研究得越深,越发现它似乎并不是一个疯狂的想法。我告诉他们,它的性能数据必须非常出色。事实上它们也的确很出色,我们并没有在续航里程上做太多折衷,车子的造型也很吸引人,这一点吸引了我。

Fortune: And now the Mustang Mach-E.

Ford: I was against it initially. As we dug deeper, it didn’t seem like such a crazy idea. I told them: The performance numbers have to stand on their own. They were good, we weren’t giving up a lot of range, and the styling was compelling. That won me over.

****

福特十分需要野马Mach-E的成功。因为它至少能够证明,在全球汽车厂商都面临巨大压力的情况下,它采取了一个行之有效的策略。那么大环境有多糟糕呢?去年全球汽车销量出现了2009年以来的首次下滑。有预测指出,从现在开始到2021年年底,全球汽车销量每年都会继续大幅下跌。甚至有人提出了“汽车饱和”的说法。

一朵阴云已经笼罩在了福特公司上空。福特的股价去年下跌达30%,跌至9美元左右,而公司的盈利能力也差强人意。信用评级机构穆迪(Moody’s)已经将该公司的信用评级下调至垃圾级。与此同时,分析师对福特最近的重组和提高盈利的计划也持保留态度。

福特的现任首席执行官韩恺特(Jim Hackett)曾任办公家具制造商Steelcase的首席执行官,此前曾任福特无人驾驶技术和未来交通业务发展部负责人。在2017年5月接替了马克·菲尔兹的位置后,韩恺特将分散在各个部门的电力化业务进行了整合。速度并不是韩恺特唯一担心的问题。由于担心公司最终会搞出一款平平无奇的电动车型,福特的常务副总裁吉姆·法利最终叫停了一个尚未命名的电动跨界车型计划,它本来有望成为福特的首款全电车型。现在,福特第一次进军全电领域,便带来了一个野马家族的成员,这越看越像是一个明智的选择。

在这种思想的指导下,福特迅速调整了策略。2017年秋天,福特将1000多名电力化项目的员工调到了“爱迪生团队”——这位传奇发明家也是亨利·福利的生前好友。在福特效力了30年的坎尼斯被任命为该项目的负责人。几个月后,福特公司的执行董事长比尔·福特宣布了一项五年110亿美元的电动化项目,该项目预计将为20款新的电动车型提供资金,并在美国建设一个充电网络,以缓解部分驾驶员的“里程焦虑”。

现在,福特离2022年的终点线只剩下一半的时间了。目前,野马Mach-E的预售工作已经启动,订金为500美元。明年它就将在墨西哥的夸奥蒂特兰工厂正式下线。全新的野马是否能够迎得消费者的欢心?福特能否凭借它一举翻身?不管答案是什么,全电版野马的风险显然是再高不过了。(财富中文网)

本文另一版本登载于《财富》杂志2019年12月刊,标题为《电子骑士》。

作者:Doron Levin

译者:朴成奎

Ford needs the Mustang Mach-E to succeed, if nothing more than to prove that its latest strategy works at a time when automakers worldwide are under duress. How bad, you ask? Global automotive sales declined last year for the first time since 2009, and forecasts predict substantial declines every year through 2021. The term “peak car” has been uttered.

A cloud of uncertainty already hangs over Dearborn. Ford shares have fallen 30% in the past year, to about $9, amid mediocre profitability. Moody’s, the credit ratings agency, downgraded the company’s creditworthiness to junk status. Meanwhile, analysts have expressed reservations about Ford’s latest restructuring as well as its plan to improve profitability, quarterbacked by CEO Jim Hackett.

Hackett, the former CEO of office-furniture maker Steelcase, earlier had served as Ford’s head of driverless vehicle technology and future mobility business development. Upon succeeding Mark Fields in May 2017, Hackett ordered a consolidation of electrification efforts, which had been distributed across various departments. Speed wasn’t his only concern. Ford brass fretted that the company’s EV development was progressing toward a mundane model, leading executive vice president Jim Farley to scrap an unnamed crossover slated to be Ford’s first electric vehicle. Approaching Ford’s entry into the all-electric category with a member of the Mustang family increasingly looked like an attractive option.

So the automaker quickly recalibrated. In fall 2017, Ford transferred more than a thousand employees working on electrification to “Team Edison,” a nod to the storied inventor and close friend of Henry Ford’s. Cannis, a 30-year company veteran, was named its leader. Months later, Bill Ford, the automaker’s executive chairman, unveiled a five-year, $11 billion electrification program that is expected to fund 20 new EV models and the build-out of a battery-charging network in the U.S.—reassurance, perhaps, for drivers concerned about charging an electric car.

Today Ford is halfway to its 2022 finish line. In the meantime, it’s happily accepting $500 deposits on the Mustang Mach-E with plans to begin rolling them off its assembly line in Cuautitlán, Mexico, next year. Will Ford’s wager on a reimagined Mustang pay off? And what of the company? Whatever the answer, it’s clear that the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A version of this article appears in the December 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “Electric Horseman.”

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