By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co is stepping up plans to extensively electrify its Lincoln brand in North America, as it prepares to introduce at least five new battery-powered Lincoln sport utility vehicles through 2026, three people familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Included are battery-electric models that will replace or supplement the Lincoln Corsair, Nautilus, Aviator and Navigator, said the sources, who asked not to be identified.

The strategy to electrify Lincoln is a key element of Ford’s planned $30 billion investment in EVs and batteries through 2030. Ford announced the $30 billion initiative in May 2021.

The automaker has said it will have the annual capacity to build at least 600,000 electric vehicles globally within 24 months, when it aims to become “the clear No. 2 electric vehicle maker in North America” behind Tesla Inc.

On Thursday, Lincoln spokeswoman Anika Salceda-Wycoco said it was “too early to talk about specific details around future vehicle or production plans.”

The first of the new Lincoln EVs, a large crossover about the size of the Aviator, is slated to begin production in late 2024 or early 2025 at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, plant, as part of a $1.5 billion changeover there from combustion-engine to battery electric vehicles, two of the sources said, citing the automaker’s plans shared with suppliers.

Several more Lincoln EV crossovers, including potential replacements for the compact Corsair and the mid-size Nautilus, could be built in Oakville in 2025-2026, said the two sources, who cited internal planning documents. Production plans for those models have not been finalized.

Several of the smaller Lincoln EVs will share an improved version of the EV platform that underpins the Ford Mustang Mach E, the sources said.

A larger Lincoln SUV, a battery-powered companion to the big Navigator, is scheduled to go into production in 2026, the sources said. It will share a new dedicated EV truck platform with the next-generation Ford F-150 Lightning, the sources said.

Ford’s plans to transform the Lincoln brand in North America into a mostly electric family of premium utility vehicles parallels an effort at General Motors Co, where the Cadillac brand has embarked on a similar makeover, starting this year with the mid-size Lyriq electric crossover.

Eventually, Cadillac is expected to field a full portfolio of electric utility vehicles, GM executives have previously said, including a full-size Escalade EV that is expected to share its underpinnings with the Hummer and Silverado EVs.

Cadillac also plans to introduce an ultra-luxury sedan called Celestiq in 2023.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)