Ted Talks: Ford Team Edison’s Ted Cannis Talks Electric Vehicles

Ted Cannis (center), global director of electrified vehicles, discussed a variety of hot-button topics with @FordOnline.

DETROIT – As Ford Team Edison recently celebrated its first anniversary, @FordOnline sat down with Ted Cannis, global director of electrified vehicles, at The Factory at Corktown, the company’s hub for electrified and autonomous vehicles. Cannis discussed a variety of hot-button topics, including Ford Team Edison, the upcoming Mustang-inspired battery-electric vehicle and the future of the company’s EV production. Our conversation will appear in two installments, with the second part appearing later this week on @FordOnline. The answers below have been abbreviated.

Q: What is your current title and can you describe your role as global director of EVs?

“We’re responsible for the profit and loss for battery-electric vehicles for the whole company, so the goal is to develop and implement a strategy for winning in battery-electric vehicles and to get us on that path to strong profitability. The key to that is making really aspirational products and leveraging the fantastic capabilities that are different in a battery-electric vehicle and the new ecosystem that lives around that. We’re working through the entire value chain to do that, and then creating scale on the batteries and the components across the vehicle lines to really have that opportunity on cost.”

Q: Do all electrified vehicles fall under Team Edison?

“Team Edison is almost 100 percent focused on fully electric vehicles, but we do have a small team working on cross-company strategy on hybrids and PHEVs that punches far above its weight. They are just a machine. They’re doing some great work synergizing hybrid and PHEV strategy across the company.”

Q: Which other Ford teams are working on EVs?

“One of the key things to remember is that it’s not just a product. It’s an entire ecosystem that has to change. The whole value stream has to change. Battery-electric vehicles require re-architecture of the whole vehicle to optimize the advantages. Purchasing is heavily involved in maximizing scale and capability with battery suppliers and new electric components. It’s great working with manufacturing on how to optimize the production of battery-electric vehicles. Then there is distribution and customer experience. We’re in the process of re-thinking the entire ownership experience, and that’s a big collaboration with marketing and sales, IT and the mobility team, and at the same time we will leverage our great dealer network – that’s one of our great advantages versus some of the new competitors.

“Then, how do you make this whole new system interface with charging companies so customers can charge their vehicles at home and elsewhere. Really, it’s rethinking the entire value chain of design, manufacturing and battery supply to distribution and customer experience to charging and energy services. It’s total change. There isn’t a person in some skill team or organization that isn’t in some way involved or impacted.”

Ted Cannis, global director of electrified vehicles.

Q: Is Team Edison located entirely in Corktown?

“No. Team Edison is a cross-functional and cross-global organization. Here we have many people who are part of Team Edison and represent all the functions: advanced manufacturing, product development, marketing and purchasing. We have people who are co-located with us who are supporting many of the teams on the infrastructure and development of the plans: IT, finance and communications team members for example. Getting this cross-functional skill team to deep-dive and sprint forward on solutions for customers is the key to why we’re moving so fast. We have teams working with us in the U.S., we have some Team Edison members who are part of the European team and we have team members in China. The real benefit is, and it’s both Ford and Lincoln, is this cross-region, cross-company method to really have a broad strategic approach to this business. You learn a lot in the comparisons across the regions about how to advance new ideas and how some of the competition have found solutions.”

Q: What are you most proud of from your first year leading Team Edison?

“There are so many things. First, having this strategy and pulling it together across regions and across brands and reviewing internally and with the board of directors on a strong strategic direction. That strategy has improved the profitability dramatically and expanded our whole plan for battery-electric vehicles. We will have around 16 battery-electric vehicles by 2022 together with a joint venture in China with Zoyte that is still being developed.

“We’ve massively expanded our scope and improved our profitability forecast. We’ve turned our first global battery-electric vehicle into a truly aspirational Mustang-inspired crossover with 300 miles of range. The dealers we have shown it to and the customers we have just finished research with, love it. The vehicle includes a new interface for the vehicle systems, as well, that is really great for our customers. The teams have really pulled together over the past year and achieved a huge amount.”

Q: What is Ford’s new way of working and how has it changed in the time you’ve been here with Team Edison and what are some of the key enablers to making it successful?

“It’s going great. The key part was establishing from the beginning that ideas and contributions are important, not stripes. If everybody who has a good idea is only allowed to speak because they have some grade level, then we’re losing fantastic ideas. The first thing was leveling the field. The second was making sure that everybody had a seat at the table in this cross-functional nature of the business. We said from the very beginning that we would think big, act small and move fast. If we don’t do that, we won’t be able to make the kind of changes we need and we won’t be able to compete. People want to join this team. They like the speed and the challenge of the work and they like working as a team in the service of the customer. That probably says more than anything else.”

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