Ford, GM, & Volkswagen Help Elon Musk Realize His Secret Tesla Master Plan

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Ford is in the spotlight this week with the unveiling of its new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck. It promises to be an impressive EV with a starting price of under $40,000 and an optional range of over 300 miles (at a higher price, of course). The fully electric vehicle is based on Ford’s wildly popular F-150 gas-powered truck and it’s sure to attract many consumers to the fold of EV ownership. The F-150 Lightning will be Ford’s second major entry into the electric vehicle market, following the launch of the Mustang Mach-E late last year.

Ford F-150 Lightning
Ford’s all electric F-150 Lightning should prove to be a popular addition to the company’s truck lineup. Image courtesy of Ford.

General Motors is also making waves in the EV market with the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq and Hummer EV. The company promises 30 different EV options globally by the year 2025. It has partnered with LG on large-scale battery plants to be built in Ohio and Tennessee, in order to power GM’s electric offerings. The company’s own website states, “We’re committed to putting every driver in an electric vehicle on a scale previously unseen and bringing the world to an all-electric future.”

In Europe, Volkswagen is beginning to grab serious market share with its first major EV offerings, the ID.3 and ID.4. The company has bested even Tesla so far in year-to-date EV sales in ten European countries (as of April 2021). As the company diversifies its EV offerings this year and into the future, the penetration of EVs into the overall automotive market will accelerate. Also, the company’s massive investment in fast-charging stations such as the “Electrify America” network will help provide the infrastructure required for a future in which electric vehicles become the norm, not the novelty.

So, with all of this growing competition, why is this man smiling?

Elon Musk embraces the automotive future: it’s electric. Image courtesy of Tesla.

The reason is simple: an all-electric worldwide vehicle fleet is exactly what Elon Musk (and Tesla) had planned from the beginning. If you read Elon Musk’s Secret Master Plan blog post from 2006, the CEO talks about Tesla’s plans to use the proceeds from expensive electric cars (Roadster) to fund the development of increasingly affordable electric cars (Model S/X, Model 3/Y). As Tesla has proven, when buyers see that an electric vehicle can outperform a gas-powered car on almost every level, and when the price point comes down into the realm of affordability, electric cars can become a viable option for millions of car and truck buyers. But Musk goes on to say: “the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

And for this reason, we see Musk congratulating the competition, not denigrating it. As automotive giants GM, Ford, and Volkswagen Group acknowledge the growing demand of pure electric vehicles, they invest in not only the technology required to bring these vehicles to market, but also the marketing and advertising required to increase awareness and demand. And as car shoppers are exposed to the advantages and real-world benefits of advanced electric vehicles, they will not just be buying more Volkswagen, Ford, and GM cars and trucks, they will also be buying more Teslas. Tesla leads the EV pack for range, performance, and technology, thanks mostly to its huge head start over the rest of the industry in EV vehicle design and manufacturing. As EV awareness grows, so do EV sales: all EV sales. Success for Ford, GM, and Volkswagen in the EV market will not come at Tesla’s expense, but at Tesla’s benefit.

Tesla Model 3
At an initial launch price of under $35,000 in 2017, Tesla’s Model 3 sedan was the company’s first entry into the mass market. Photo by Chris Boylan.

Worldwide EV adoption can’t be accomplished by a single company, particularly a relatively young upstart like Tesla. It’s going to require a paradigm shift for the whole industry, and with these latest EV initiatives from three of the largest automotive manufacturers, it’s clear that this shift is underway.

And hey, to power that shiny new EV, perhaps Tesla could interest you in a nice new “solar roof?” You can read about that in Musk’s “Secret Master Plan, Part Deux.”

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Chris Boylan

is an EV and alternative fuel enthusiast who has been writing about technology since 2003.

Chris Boylan has 65 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Boylan