Ford is on track to sell between 40,000 and 50,000 electric vehicles in the US this year. That’s not good. Yet, first-quarter sales imply Ford will be the 3rd best selling automaker in the EV industry in 2023.
Tesla, meanwhile, is on track to sell about 640,000 electric vehicles in the US in 2023. So, while Ford may end up third, it is far, far away from #1 Tesla.
There are several reasons for the difference in scale, including battery supplies and overall manufacturing capability, but on the consumer side, one factor that has long favored Tesla to a great extent is its Supercharger network. It is by far the best network for easy, reliable, superfast charging.
A few years ago, when we asked thousands of EV buyers “Which of the following are the most important considerations for you to consider buying a specific EV model?” (allowing more than one selection), 23% of Tesla drivers, 35% of non-Tesla BEV drivers and 42% of PHEV drivers selected “Access to Tesla’s Supercharger network (or a comparable superfast-charging network).” For an interesting comparison, those figures were 90%, 3%, and 0%, respectively, in the UK.
Some people may consider other EV fast charging networks as comparable to Tesla’s Supercharger network, but they really aren’t on the same level still, which is why Ford CEO Jim Farley decided that Ford would partner with Tesla to give its drivers access to Tesla Supercharging.
Before continuing on this topic, I’ll just say again that in order to sell a lot more electric vehicles a year, Ford has to line up the battery supplies and ramp up the manufacturing capacity. As long as it doesn’t do that, it won’t get many of the benefits Tesla has earned and it won’t of course sell a million EVs a year. However, if it put in that effort, with this new partnership, I think Ford could easily sell half a million EVs a year in the States.
Initially, I put “1 million” in the title, and I think that is indeed possible. However, to be a bit more conservative and realistic about the near term, I dropped that to about a quarter of Ford’s sales, or half a million. The company has an attractive, capable, competitively priced electric crossover or SUV on offer (the Ford Mustang Mach-E) and an electric pickup truck (the Ford F-150 Lightning). With good options in these extremely popular segments, Ford could certainly climb close to the combined success of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. Add one more BEV in another popular car class and Ford could aim for 50,000 sales a quarter for each of the models and could thus reach 600,000 a year.
Ford has had an issue with large markups on its electric vehicles at dealers as demand has far outstripped supply. With Supercharger access coming, expect that problem to resurface. I know people in my own life who would seriously consider a Ford EV with this much better charging access, my own family included.
Naturally, this is not a scientific endeavor, and all forecasting is based to some extent on assumptions that are simply guesses. However, I was quite right on my expectations for Tesla Model 3 and Model Y sales growth, and I think Ford could sell a few hundred thousand F-150 Lightnings and a couple hundred thousand Mustang Mach-Es to customers now that they will gain Tesla Supercharger access — if Ford has enough ambition and produces enough. What do you think? Is 500,000 electric Fords too bullish? Still bearish?
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