What the Heck is Going on with Ford Electric Car Demand & Forecasting?

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Hype about dropping electric vehicle sales, or dropping electric vehicle sales growth, began near the end of 2023. I recall that one of the first big names in the industry to bring it up was Jim Farley, CEO of Ford. And as a result, Ford said that it was adjusting its EV plans to be a bit less ambitious. I found it particularly odd at the time since Ford’s electric vehicles actually had a strong 4th quarter. But hey, I didn’t have insight into what was coming in terms of Ford demand like Farley did, right?

Well, it seems Farley didn’t have good insight into what was coming either. Ford EV sales increased by 61% in the second quarter compared to the second quarter of 2023. In the first half of 2024 overall, Ford EV sales were up 72%. That’s extremely strong sales growth, and even without introducing any new models.

What other segment of Ford’s business has seen such strong growth? What would happen if Ford introduced electric vehicles in more model segments?

Furthermore, as Ford notes, it is only behind Tesla in terms of US electric vehicle sales, with 23,957 sales in the second quarter and 44,180 in the first half of the year. Ford is actually selling electric cars and trucks, and that’s the fastest growing portion of its business.

The Ford Maverick, which got its own graphic and got highlighted above EVs in the bullet list to kick off the news release, had 38% growth. What am I missing here?

Additionally, these EV sales are normally “conquest sales,” the most valuable kind of sales for an automaker since auto buyers are often loyal and it’s very helpful to steal buyers from other auto brands. “Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning are drawing customers from other brands; 62 percent of F-150 Lightning and 54 percent of Mustang Mach-E sales are new to Ford,” the company writes. (The Maverick, by the way, did also have 60% conquest sales, which is what its graphic was about. Where are the graphics for the Lighting and Mach-E?) Here are more model-specific notes from Ford:

Mustang Mach-E sales rose 46 percent over last year and are up 58 percent through the first half of the year. Year-to-date sales represent Mustang Mach-E’s best performance since launch.

Sales of America’s No. 1 selling electric truck, the F-150 Lightning, totaled 15,645 through June of this year. F-150 Lightning sales for Q2 totaled 7,902, up 77 percent from a year ago.

The Ford E-Transit was America’s best-selling electric van with total first half sales of 6,301, more than double the amount sold during the first half of 2023. During Q2, E-Transit sales were up 96 percent. This represents E-Transit’s best quarterly sales since its debut in 2022.

Three of every four E-Transit sales this year are from repeat customers as businesses see for themselves the lower maintenance and fuel costs that come with an electric vehicle.

So, again, I’m confused by Jim Farley’s premature claim that EV sales were not growing as much as they hoped and the decision to scale back some EV plans.

Even amongst fast EV sales growth from several other automakers, Ford stands out. (Note that this is Q1 sales growth YoY. We’ll have something soon for Q2.)

Notably, about a month ago, Ford stopped requiring that its dealers install certain EV charging and servicing equipment in order to sell EVs. There’s a lot to unpack there, including lawsuits, but that’s clearly part of Ford’s sidestep away from a strong EV push. However, I have to wonder, will that help sell more EVs in the future now? Will more dealers get and sell Ford’s EVs? Who wouldn’t want a piece of that fast-growing EV pie?

“Now, instead of DC fast chargers, Level 2 chargers will be required. Instead of several tiers of dealerships with different access to electric cars, now all Ford dealers will be welcome to sell EVs, according to a statement from Ford’s chief operating officer Marin Gjaja last week. Ford dealers will no longer be required to invest in certification to get EVs on their lot, which will open the sales of electric cars to the entire dealership network,” Steve Hanley wrote at the time.

Again, in another article about a month ago, Steve writes: “At a conference last week, Ford CEO Jim Farley and GM CEO Mary Barra served up two contradictory visions of the path forward for electrified vehicles. Both companies have been backpedaling furiously on their battery electric car plans amid what some allege is a slowdown in consumer interest in EVs. In his remarks, Farley sounded like he had just spent a weekend playing golf with Akio Toyoda. Ford, he said, would focus on bringing more pure hybrid models to market, believing that is what consumers want most.”

What the heck is going on? Pure electric vehicles are growing faster than hybrids at Ford. Hybrid sales were up a lot in the second quarter, 56%, but still not as much as pure EVs, and it’s a similar story looking at the first half of the year overall (even better for BEVs actually).

Reuters reports that Farley wants the industry to stop viewing hybrid vehicles as only an interim solution to be used until drivers are comfortable going fully electric.”

Man, I was singing Jim Farley’s praises so much in recent years, and the man has really come and disappointed me now. He’s trying to push conventional hybrids, not even plugin hybrids. It’s completely the wrong approach. At least Mary Barra at GM is pro-PHEV and not going with the idea that dropping the plug is better in any way for a consumer.

I don’t know what the problem is at Ford and inside Jim Farley’s head. Maybe it’s that the Tesla Cybertruck is already outselling the Ford F-150 Lightning, but I doubt it, since Farley has seemingly always been fine being #2 behind Tesla and Lighting sales are growing strong nonetheless. Perhaps they all got carried away with post-COVID sales booms and just got their expectations all out of whack. Perhaps dropping prices and lack of big enough economies of scale and supply chain dominance mean that Ford doesn’t have the profit margins it wants on its EVs, and it’s able to squeeze more money out of hybrid buyers.

Related stories from the end of 2023:

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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