Ford Plotting Three-Row Electric SUV To Rival Kia EV9

Industry News / 6 Comments

But the Kia will still get a headstart in the rare three-row electric SUV space.

Ford has confirmed that it plans to build a three-row electric SUV to slot in above the two-row Mustang Mach-E. According to Autocar, that was confirmed by Ford CEO Jim Farley in a call with analysts to discuss the Blue Oval's earnings in the first quarter of 2023. Farley was discussing the outlook for Model E, its division that is focused on breakthrough EVs.

"In contrast to two-row crossovers that we believe will be a very saturated market, we believe Model E can be highly differentiated in markets where we know the customer well, like the three-row utility space," said Farley. "A lot of new customers bought a Lightning that never owned a pickup truck before. And we intend to do that with a three-row crossover and with a bunch of EV Pro vehicles."

2020-2023 Ford Explorer Interior Overview Ford
2022-2023 Ford Expedition Max Seat Folded Ford

Three-row electric SUVs are still rare, with the only options currently on sale being the Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model X, Mercedes-Benz EQB SUV, Rivian R1S, and Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. Some, like the Model Y, require an extra outlay to equip a third row.

However, Ford's upcoming three-row EV will likely face a brace of new rivals when it arrives. One of the main ones will be the Kia EV9 which debuted in North America last month and is due here at the end of 2023. Honda also confirmed a larger EV that will arrive here in 2025 with the brand's own platform, and we expect this to be a three-row SUV as well.

Both Kia and Honda are already established as popular options in the three-row SUV space with models like the Telluride and Pilot.

Of course, as Farley referenced, Ford itself is no stranger to three-row SUVs with its own Explorer and Expedition Max options.

2022-2023 Ford Expedition Max Interior Overview Ford

It's unclear what would power a three-row electric SUV from Ford, but the company already has powerful enough motors from the Mach-E that produce up to 480 horsepower. These will be good enough to motivate the larger vehicle along at a decent pace. As with the Mach-E, both rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations should be offered.

But when it comes to modern three-row SUVs, it's all about interior spaciousness and flexibility. This is less of a focus for the Mach-E which is a sportier, more compact vehicle. The Kia EV9, for instance, comes with a "first-class second row" with available leg extensions and a flat floor that makes it incredibly spacious, a design enabled by the E-GMP architecture.

As things stand now, we expect the new three-row electric SUV from Ford to arrive after its new T3 electric pickup that is scheduled for 2025.

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