Ford plans to build on its leadership in commercial vehicles to create new streams of revenue while capturing a larger share of a critical market with an array of new services.
Ted Cannis, a veteran Ford executive who became Ford Pro CEO June 1, says the automaker’s strong base in commercial vehicles in Europe, where it has become a leader in recent years, and in North America, where it has more than 120,000 accounts with individual customers who use their vehicles for business or work, create new opportunities for the company.
The goal of Ford Pro, is to redefine customer value through the auto industry’s first standalone commercial-vehicles services and distribution business. The effort is a key element of the Blue Oval’s plan for growth, Cannis (pictured, below left) says.
Ford Pro leverages technology to deliver a range of electric and gas-powered commercial vans, trucks and connected services, helping business and government customers improve productivity and lower their total cost of vehicle ownership, says Cannis, who, during a pivotal period from October 2017 and May 2020, was Ford global director-battery-electric vehicles and the leader of strategy and business execution for Team Edison, Ford’s dedicated BEV team that developed the groundbreaking Mustang Mach-E CUV.
Cannis says the Transit van and F-150 pickup truck are the key vehicles for Ford’s commercial customers. The battery-electric version of Transit will begin arriving in late 2021 and the F-150 Lightning BEV (pictured, below) is to arrive by mid-2022, creating new opportunities to serve customers with services such as high-speed charging, monitoring of energy usage, vehicle tracking and predictive maintenance as well as over-the-air software updates.
Ford Pro’s objective is to deliver a unified portfolio of resources to drive the commercial vehicle business forward by optimizing each customer’s operations, including through improved alignment with partners, Cannis says.
“Ford Pro offers customers end-to-end service,” he says. It also can ensure the customer gets the correct vehicle and battery combination. “Commerical customers don’t want to buy more vehicle than they need,” Cannis says, and Ford Pro can help manage their selections by providing information about energy usage for every vehicle in their fleet.
Aside from energy usage, the most critical factor for anyone using a vehicle for their business is “uptime,” Cannis says. Any time a vehicle is out of service for repairs, it represents lost productivity, he adds. “Nothing is more important to commercial customers than productivity.”
Ford Pro plans to utilize its network of dealers, which handle commercial customers, to step up service. For example, the automaker is preparing to offer service on a customer’s property. “It’s easier to work on 10 trucks at once” and is more practical for the customer, Cannis says.
At the same time, Ford is planning to set up special service centers for commercial customers in major U.S. metropolitan areas. Ford has used this strategy in Europe, where the company’s commercial business is flourishing, the automaker says.
Ford Pro also will offer financing and related services for commercial customers. Traditionally, Ford Motor Credit has focused on dealers and retail customers.
“We can give you a complete statement every month” that tracks energy usage as well as depreciation, Cannis says. The finance statement can even collect data from the vehicle to track charging if an employee plugs it in at home and perhaps uses the vehicle for a personal errand.
Cannis says Ford Pro is continuing to invest in new software that will improve services Ford believes it can use to expand its network of commercial customers.