Almost all of the attention around Joe Biden’s event with UAW last week was around Tesla, ironically. There was also some coverage of the 2030 target (pro and con — I was on the side of pointing out how weak it is), and I tried to point out that the whole event — for Biden — was about pushing his much more substantial EV incentive proposals.
However, a top story I’ve been wanting to highlight and am finally getting to is that Ford’s 2030 targets, which CEO Jim Farley broadcasted on the same day, are a bit stronger than the White House’s. Ford is aiming for 40–50% full electric vehicle sales by 2030, rather than 50% plugin vehicle & hydrogen vehicle sales by 2030, indicating a more serious push for full battery-electric vehicles. GM put out a statement that said, “Today, Ford, GM and Stellantis announce their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030 in order to move the nation closer to a zero-emissions future consistent with Paris climate goals.” Ford dropped the hybrids in its statement (as well as the illogical hydrogen fuel cell vehicles). Ford’s more ambitious aims mean a few things that I think are quite noteworthy.
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) August 5, 2021
First of all, Ford’s stronger aims imply that GM and/or Stellantis wouldn’t agree to stronger national targets. Actually, when you consider the fact that Tesla sales are roped into the national target as well, Ford’s above-average goal looks even better.
I’m not saying Ford is some superhero here — its 2030 target is still too weak. However, this reinforces my perception that the Michigan-based automaker is more serious about trying to compete than most of the field. Recall, also, that Ford plans to be selling 100% fully electric vehicles in Europe by 2030 — a truly admirable target for a legacy automaker, but also a logical one that is good for the company.
When I interviewed Ford’s head of BEVs earlier this year regarding the F-150 Lightning, there was every indication that this was a serious EV team given Silicon Valley startup-like freedom, with the full backing of the company’s top decision-makers and biggest brand names. It seemed Ford was aiming to be a true market leader and had a lot more planned. You simply don’t put both the Mustang and F-150 names on your electric vehicles if you don’t believe in them and if you don’t want to build passion and consumer momentum behind them.
The 2030 target has room for improvement, but there’s also plenty of time to raise the bar if things are going well for Ford’s BEV arm. Plus, every increase in the target is an opportunity for more marketing and press love! And I wouldn’t discount that or write it off with a salty smirk. Ford’s biggest challenge in the EV transition may not even be technical or with leadership. Its biggest challenge is probably convincing consumers and dealers that BEVs are the future — the very near future — and getting them to join the fun. That is probably Ford’s #1 hurdle. More opportunities for highlighting stronger targets and progress are important to success in that arena. Nonetheless, it is good for Ford to get out of the blocks faster than its colleagues at this point. Or I guess we could say it’s a good time to sprint forward after hanging out in the rear for several years. (Too many Olympic running metaphors?)
Ford still has to see how well its F-150 Lightning is received once it’s available and examine the long-term love for the Mustang Mach-E, but I think it’s seen enough that it’s optimistic about the Blue Oval’s electric future. What do you think?
Also, I do think Ford has higher internal BEV targets for 2030 than what it is stating publicly. What do you think?