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Ford’s secretive, low-cost EV team is growing with talent from Rivian, Tesla and Apple

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There has been a lot of chaos recently in the world of electric vehicles, and Ford has capitalized on it to build out its secretive low-cost EV team.

A TechCrunch review of LinkedIn data found that Ford has built this team up to around 300 employees over the last year. That includes around 50 coming from Rivian, more than 20 from Tesla, and a dozen from cash-strapped Canoo. It also hired around 10 employees from Lucid Motors, and a handful from Apple’s recently disbanded EV team known as Project Titan.

Ford has also hired two senior aerodynamicists away from Formula 1 teams to work on the project.

The growth of the secretive team comes as Ford, like its rivals, looks for ways to dramatically drive down the cost of EVs in a bid to catch Tesla, while also fending off cheap competition brewing in China. “All of our EVs teams are ruthlessly focused on cost and efficiency in our EV products, because the ultimate competition is going to be the affordable Tesla and the Chinese OEMs,” CEO Jim Farley said in February when he revealed the project on an analyst call.

The newly reported hires add to a group that Ford already bolstered with its late 2023 acquisition of a startup called Auto Motive Power, or AMP. That team of more than 100 people was brought into Ford to help advance work on a low-cost electric vehicle platform meant to power next-generation vehicles that could truly compete with Tesla on a mass-market level.

Ford was already growing the team before the acquisition. The main hub is located in Irvine, California, the same place Rivian claims as its headquarters. In the second half of 2023, Ford hired about a dozen former Rivian employees, many of them engineers. It also brought Canoo’s former director of software operations and a senior fabricator on board. (Canoo has a large office in nearby Torrance, California.)

Hiring accelerated at the beginning of 2024, with Ford bringing in a senior mechanical design engineer who worked on Tesla’s “gigacasting” team. That effort involves creating the underbody of a vehicle in just a few large pieces as opposed to welding or riveting together many more, in an effort to simplify the process.

Rivian’s decision to lay off 10% of its workforce in February also appears to have offered Ford an opportunity to snap up talent, as the Advanced EV team hired another dozen engineers in the following months. Ford also brought on Canoo’s former VP of engineering in May.

More recently, Ford has built out the team’s presence in Palo Alto. It brought on electrical engineers and program managers from AV operator Nuro (which restructured in 2023), Lucid Motors (which slashed 1,300 jobs last year) and eVTOL startup Joby. In May and June 2024, it also added multiple Project Titan engineers to the Palo Alto office.

Very few of the new hires Ford brought onto the project over the last year or so come from outside of the world of electric cars. Those who did tended to come from eVTOL startups like Joby, Archer, and Supernal.

The company declined to respond to specific questions about how it’s building out the team, which is known internally as Ford Advanced EV. It also noted that some of the work being done by Ford Advanced EV could be applied to other efforts across the company, not necessarily just to the low-cost EV project.

“The Ford Advanced EV team is part of a global effort to build focused technology and product development teams local to the best talent centers. This team is leading the development of breakthrough EV products and technologies,” Doug Field, Ford’s chief EV, digital and design officer, said in a statement to TechCrunch.



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