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Ford Slows Its Push Into Electric Vehicles

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Ford Motor on Thursday delayed the production of at least two new electric cars and said it would pivot to making more hybrids. Its decision was the latest sign that large automakers have been forced to rethink their strategy for electric vehicles because sales for those models are slowing.

The shift by Ford and other companies like General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, which have also pushed back their electric car plans, has been prompted largely by the difficulty these companies have had in making and selling enough electric cars and doing so profitably.

Sales of such vehicles are still growing but the pace has slowed sharply in recent months as automakers have tapped out many of the early adopters who were willing to spend more than $50,000 on a new battery-powered cars. Because they are still learning how to make the cars and their batteries at lower cost, the companies have not been able to bring out more affordable models.

Some consumers are also reluctant to buy electric models because they can’t charge the vehicles at home or are worried that there won’t be enough public chargers available when they want to travel more than a couple hundred miles.

Many car buyers interested in electric vehicles appear to be opting for hybrid cars, which can cost just a few hundred dollars more than a comparable gasoline-only models. As a result, Ford said on Thursday that it hoped to offer a hybrid version of every model it sold by the end of the decade.

The company said it was now planning to start making a large electric sport-utility vehicle at its plant in Oakville, Ontario, in 2027, two years later than it had planned. A new plant that Ford is building in Tennessee will now start making an electric pickup truck in 2026, a year later than originally scheduled.

“We are committed to scaling a profitable E.V. business, using capital wisely and bringing to market the right gas, hybrid and fully electric vehicles at the right time,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Farley, said in a statement.

The slowdown in sales is also hurting the leading maker of electric models in the United States, Tesla. This week it reported an unexpected 8.5 percent decrease in sales of its electric cars in the first three months of the year.

On Wednesday, Ford said its sales of electric vehicles grew 86 percent in the quarter, to 20,223 vehicles, but the total was well below the level the company had once hoped to reach and came after it cut some prices.

The company sold more than 7,700 F-150 Lightning pickups, its flagship electric model, in the three-month period. As recently as last summer, Ford hoped to be able to produce some 150,000 Lightnings trucks a year. The company recently reduced Lightning production to one shift per day from two.

Two years ago, Ford, G.M., Volkswagen and other automakers were planning to introduce dozens of new electric cars and trucks, expecting consumers to make a rapid transition to electric vehicles from gasoline-powered vehicles.

But in the second half of 2023, the growth in electric sales decreased significantly, forcing manufacturers to scale back their ambitions. Both Ford and G.M. have also slowed work on new factories that are supposed to supply battery packs for their new electric models.

Ford’s electric vehicle division lost about $4.7 billion last year before taking into account interest and taxes. By contrast, its division that makes gasoline and hybrid vehicles for consumers made a $7.5 billion profit.

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