Ford Has Seen GM's Giant Electric Car Gamble And Would Like To Offer A Raise

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GM has said that it will spend $27 billion over the next five years on electric autonomous car development, which sure sounded like a lot until today, when Ford said it would be investing $29 billion. That’s $2 billion more! Also Ford had its first full-year loss in more a decade.

The $29 billion will be invested in autonomous and electric car development through 2025, Ford said, though numbers from both Ford and GM aren’t much more than marketing at this point.

What will matter, instead, are the actual products. Tesla currently sells four all-electric cars that many people like very much; Ford currently sells one all-electric car that people seem to not hate; and GM currently sells one electric car in the U.S. that is the definition of “meh,” which you can currently get a pretty good deal on.

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In 2025, I’m not sure how that graf might read, though I think it’s safe to assume that GM and Ford will each have more than a single EV by then.

From Automotive News:

CFO John Lawler said a “majority” of the $22 billion dedicated to electrified vehicles would be spent on battery-electric models, although he declined to say how many Ford planned to add to its lineup. He also declined to match GM’s stated ambition of going all-electric by 2035, noting Ford was focused on introducing upcoming models like the F-150 EV and E-Transit.

Lawler said the $7 billion commitment for autonomous vehicles would include spending on Ford-owned Argo AI as well as its planned 2022 launch of autonomous commercial services.

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Ford attributed its loss for the year — $1.3 billion — to various one-time charges, including $2.5 billion to leave Brazil and over $600 million because of Takata airbag recalls. So you’d expect Ford to get back in the black next year, billions and billions spent on EVs or not. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

In any case, I’m legitimately excited about the Ford E-Transit, maybe a little too excited, given its potential to replace last-mile delivery trucks in a world ever so dependent on home delivery. And I’m at least F-150-EV-curious, though for other reasons I don’t think that will be as successful, because truck owners are a stubborn and loyal species.

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Everyone seems to like the Mach-E as well, which is a good start for Ford, but this really won’t be all that meaningful until the Blue Oval goes after the core of its lineup: Explorers and Escapes and Edges. And the hybrids, for the purposes of this conversation, don’t count. That’s because what was so striking about GM’s announcement was not the price tag but the aspiration to go 100 percent all-electric by 2035. This thing that General Motors has done for more than a century — building internal combustion engine cars and selling them — it now plans to quit doing altogether. It was as if Budweiser had announced that it was pivoting from beer to cannabis.

Ford’s ambitions are currently something short of that, but whenever — if they ever — say something similar you’ll know that they really are serious.