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Ford Adding Spark to EV Race with New F-150

At a live press conference this morning Ford Motor Co. COO and incoming CEO Jim Farley announced that the storied automaker is bringing America's best-selling truck (for 43 years straight) into the electric age. "This one is designed and engineered to widen the gap. This is the truck that's going to lead Ford and the entire industry into a new era of smart connected vehicles that make lives better for millions of people," he said. "Now because it's an F-150, we gave it targeted best-in-class towing and payload. And we also added a full hybrid to the lineup. It gives the F-150 capability a truck has never had -- up to 7.2 kilowatts of available power-generating capability. Plus, at least 12,000 pounds of maximum towing capacity, the most of any hybrid truck."

Moving well beyond the limited expectations many place on EVs, Ford is touting the new F-150 truck as the one to take EVs to the next level. "Now, other trucks can power your blender. But ours will power your entire tailgate party. It is also smart, with standard automatic electric braking, with pedestrian detection -- for every model, not just the high end," he said. "And it has over-the-air updates, which will keep our customers at the forefront of technology, these updates will include available, active drive assist. That will allow for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in the 50 states in Canada."

The new manufacturing center at the Dearborn-based Rouge Center, once complete, will add 300 jobs and is part of a $700 million investment in building the all-new F-150 lineup, including the first-ever F-150 PowerBoost hybrid. The new jobs will support battery assembly and production of the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid and fully electric F-150.The new manufacturing center at the Dearborn-based Rouge Center, once complete, will add 300 jobs and is part of a $700 million investment in building the all-new F-150 lineup, including the first-ever F-150 PowerBoost hybrid. The new jobs will support battery assembly and production of the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid and fully electric F-150.Ford Motor Co.Economic impact

As Ford introduces the electrification of the F-150, Farley clearly stressed its role in today American economy. Specifically, this truck is "purpose-built for people who build America -- the men and women who drive our trucks are the backbone of our economy. And whether you're working your first job, or you own your own company, the F-150 has your back. Together we're helping power America's recovery," he said. "The Ford Motor Company supports 1 million American jobs and contributes 100 billion dollars to America's GDP. And the F series team is responsible for half of that."

Ford is continuing its investment in American workforce by investing in the Rouge. "We're putting $700 million into a major new manufacturing center of excellence, right here at the Rouge. And that's going to create hundreds of new jobs. We're going to expand the F series, which will also include an all new fully electric F-150, and at zero emissions F-150 wasn't already enough," he says. "The power to generate this new assembly facility will be carbon free as well. 100% renewable energy." 

Farley is basing his information off a newly released  (BCG) that found F-Series is among the most valuable consumer goods in America and a key employment driver. Among the specific findings:

  • Up to 14 American jobs are supported by each direct Ford F-Series employee. This equates to about 500,000 total jobs attributable to Ford’s F-Series alone
  • Overall, Ford supports 1 million American jobs
  • Of the more than 2 million full-sized pickup trucks assembled in the U.S. last year, Ford assembled nearly half – twice as many as any other automaker
  • The best-selling F-Series contributed nearly $50 billion to the U.S. GDP
  • The F-Series franchise alone generates more revenue than major companies such as McDonalds, Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa and Netflix

Auto makers have been investing significantly over the last few years to broaden their electric vehicle lineups, Jeff Windau, industrials analyst at Edward Jones, tells IndustryWeek. “Specifically, Ford previously announced that it would be increasing its spending by $11 billion with a plan to have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles launched by 2022,” he says. “Demand for trucks and SUVs has been strong and are the most profitable for the industry, so it makes sense that Ford works towards electrify its best-selling vehicles.”  

Not just a lifestyle truck

This isn't a truck for "never-nevers," who never tow, never haul and never go off-road, exclaimed Farley. "This truck has been tested and tortured to be built Ford tough, like you wouldn't believe. It's really been put through the wringer at Ford. The powerful dual electric motors are targeted to deliver more horsepower and torque than any other F-150 available today," he said. "That means faster zero-60 times. Of course, it will also be able to tow heavy trailers and haul heavy payloads in the back, and in the front. It's got an enormous front trunk so you can move hundreds of pounds of cargo with complete security, like bags of concrete or valuable tools."

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Time for Tracking to Improve?

Whenever a vaccine is ready for distribution to the global population, its distribution is sure to create an entirely new batch of challenges. Accurate tracking that goes beyond the traditional scanning that many logistics providers leverage will prove instrumental, especially as security concerns surface. 

To combat these challenges FedEx recently announced the launch of SenseAware ID, a lightweight sensor-based logistics device that delivers a new level of precision tracking. The enhanced location visibility provided by this technology will create opportunities for FedEx customers to reimagine their supply chain through real-time updates on a package’s location within the FedEx Express network. SenseAware ID will improve the safety, security and timeliness of deliveries – key attributes for packages that contain critical contents such as life-saving pharmaceuticals and emergency medical supplies.

The detailed location data provided by SenseAware ID is a critical differentiator for healthcare industry customers, and FedEx expects to use this new technology with anticipated COVID-19 vaccine shipments. The rollout of SenseAware ID is well-timed as FedEx continues to move life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for healthcare customers throughout the U.S.

“Package tracking and visibility are more important now than ever, as businesses have become increasingly reliant on timely deliveries,” said Robert B. Carter, executive vice president and chief information officer, FedEx Corporation. “Created by our innovation teams at FedEx, SenseAware ID was designed to give our customers the precise level of tracking they’ve been looking for, enabling them to optimize their supply chains and make any necessary adjustments during the journey of their shipments.”

Sense AwareFedEx SenseAwareFedEx has long been a pioneer in sensor-based logistics, providing advanced tracking of urgent and high value shipments for over a decade through its proprietary SenseAware portfolio. SenseAware ID is the latest innovation in FedEx sensor technology, designed to make sensor-based logistics more accessible to FedEx customers.

SenseAware ID uses a lightweight, compact sensor that transmits precise package location data every two seconds via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to WiFi access points or established gateway devices throughout the FedEx Express network. Packages equipped with the SenseAware ID sensor are tracked hundreds of times versus dozens of times with traditional package scanning protocols, which provides an unprecedented amount of real-time data about the location of the shipment.

As part of the initial roll-out, SenseAware ID sensors are being applied to First Overnight shipments within the U.S. domestic FedEx Express network. An initial round of customers in the healthcare, aerospace and retail industries will receive access to the enhanced data in November 2020. FedEx expects to expand access to this precision location data to additional customers throughout the first half of 2021. SenseAware ID will eventually be made available for a broad range of premium FedEx Express services.

The enhanced package visibility data provided by SenseAware ID will give FedEx healthcare customers the opportunity to closely monitor and proactively protect shipments using additional FedEx healthcare services, including cold-chain storage, thermal blankets and temperature controlled containers. SenseAware ID is expected to play a critical role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines using the FedEx First Overnight service, helping ensure these sensitive shipments are delivered quickly and safely.