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

Illustration for article titled Ford Has Seen GM's Giant Electric Car Gamble And Would Like To Offer A Raise
Photo: Ford

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.

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.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I still believe it’s simply a race to make the first viable electric truck. Putting battery packs between the frame rails isn’t rocket science. For fleet use, it makes a ton of sense, actually. I personally think the utility of adding electric tool hookups and the “front locking trunk” where the engine used to be will be a bonus for truck buyers. Secondly, towing is... torque. Electric motors are like me wearing sweatpants at the 1PM lunch buffet at Deja Vu Gentleman’s Club — perfectly suited for tugging.

Trucks are the game of “no you first” that GM and Ford have both been too scared to launch, and the big question they actually need to answer isn’t about trucks, but rather about chargers. The thing holding back most people is how they’re going to charge it at home, since “plugging in” overnight isn’t viable for many folks. (Street parking, apartments, rentals, etc.)

I am privy to some information on that, but I won't float a rumor without confirming. With that said, the winner of the electric truck battle will be the company who can provide the most peace of mind about charging convenience.