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Ford poaches ex-Tesla, Rivian, and Apple talent to develop affordable EVs

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As the race heats up to introduce more affordable electric cars, Ford is bringing on some of the best EV engineers to help it compete. Over the past few months, Ford has hired talent from Tesla, Rivian, Apple, and Lucid to help accelerate the development of affordable EVs.

A bet on affordability

Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed in February that the company made a bet to develop an affordable EV platform two years ago.

Farley described it as a start-up separate from its primary operations. Although it was a small team, according to Ford’s leader, it has “some of the best EV engineers in the world.”

The team includes several Tesla engineers, including Alan Clarke, who worked on the Tesla Model Y. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the team had less than 100 people just a few months ago.

New data from TechCrunch shows that the group has quickly grown to around 300. The data shows 50 employees came from Rivian, over 20 from Tesla, and about 12 from Canoo over the past year. It also brought on ten employees from Lucid and another few from Apple’s canceled electric car, Project Titan.

Ford Mustang Mach E at a Tesla Supercharger (Source: Ford)

Ford hires Rivian and Tesla talent for affordable EVs

After bringing on several Rivian employees (many engineers) in the second half of 2023, hiring accelerated this year.

Ford hired a senior design engineer who worked with Tesla’s Gigacasting team as it aims to cut costs. Earlier this year, Farley said the “ultimate competition is going to be the affordable Tesla and the Chinese OEMs.”

Rivian R2 (Source: Rivian)

The hiring spree picked up after Rivian announced it was cutting 10% of its workforce in February. Ford scooped up about a dozen more Rivian engineers as it moved to develop affordable EVs. In May, Ford brought on Canoo’s former VP of engineering.

Ford has also hired talent from eVTOL leaders like Joby, Archer Aviation, and Hyundai’s Supernal.

Although Ford didn’t provide much detail, it did tell TechCrunch the team is known as “Ford Advanced EV” internally.

Ford Mustang Mach-E (Source: Ford

In a statement, Ford’s chief EV, digital, and design officer, Doug Field, said, “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.”

He added, “This team is leading the development of breakthrough EV products and technologies.”

Ford has said the platform will be flexible and can be used to launch several types of vehicles. It’s also expected to be used in other areas of the company, like Ford Pro.

Ford Explorer EV production (Source: Ford)

The news comes as Ford’s first all-electric Explorer rolled off the production line at its Cologne plant in Germany last week. Ford is set to reveal a new electric sports crossover based on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, which is expected to be an electric Capri.

Electrek’s Take

The hiring spree comes as Ford looks to compete with the incoming wave of affordable EVs. Kia opened orders for its new EV3 in Korea last week, starting at just $30,700 (KRW 42.08 million). It’s expected to start at around $35,000 when it reaches the US.

Next year, Kia will launch the EV4, which is expected to start at around $35,000. Sister company Hyundai teased the first look at its new INSTER EV, a low-cost electric car, this week.

Volkswagen finished design work on its ID.2all, which is expected to debut later this year, starting at around $27,000 (€25,000). Rivian also unveiled its smaller, more affordable R2 earlier this year. It’s expected to launch in 2026 at around $45,000.

And that’s not including Chinese automakers like BYD. With so many rivals aiming for the affordable EV segment, will Ford make its mark? By hiring some of “the best EV engineers in the world,” Ford hopes to do just that.

Will Ford come out on top? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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