Why are legacy automakers like Ford just barely dipping their toes in the EV market?
I just read Tom Moloughney's article "2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Nearly Sold Out."
Before going on (OK, maybe going off would be more appropriate) about the topic of the article, I want to say, "good job Tom." I enjoy watching Tom on Alex Guberman's YouTube channel, E for Electric. Tom is as easy and enjoyable to read as he is to listen to.
The first thing that comes to mind is the question, "Why only 50 k vehicles in 2021"? We all can remember the Tesla skeptics saying that "the big boys are coming" and they are going to slay Tesla. Yet Tesla delivered about 100k Model 3 sedans in its first full year (2018) of production. But, Ford is a major auto manufacturer with all the weight of a Goliath. I would have thought that it could most certainly put its weight behind this project and sell scads of Mustang Mach-E vehicles.
The Mach-e seems, by all appearances and reports, to be a fairly decent and well-priced EV. I would be surprised if Ford couldn't sell 120,000 of them a year in the first few years of production. I firmly believe that the addressable market is there to support at least that level of deliveries. Interest in EVs continues to rise. By all rights, with the Mach-e, Ford should be able to acquire plenty of EV customers.
So why the small production number? Perhaps it isn't all that easy to produce electric cars? Those self-proclaimed pundits who sang, and continue to sing, the off-pitch competition song just don't get it. It appears that no one will truly be able to challenge Tesla in this space (meaning Tesla's target market segment), at least not in the near future.
Tesla keeps racing ahead. It seems it can't be caught. I suspect that the coming Battery and Powertrain Investor Day will make that ever so clear.
Is it that, or there is another possible explanation? Perhaps it is in truth as Eric Noble stated on Autoline After Hours when the Mach-e launched (1). While sitting with Dave Pericak, Ford's Global Director of Icons, Mr. Noble asserted his belief that all EVs built by legacy automakers are, in fact, compliance cars.
He maintains that Ford, for example, will only build and sell as many Mustang Mach-E crossovers as is required by mandate. He said, "I don't think there's a manufacturer out there that would do an EV if they didn't have to." Mr. Pericak took that comment and didn’t really counter that the Mach-e wasn’t a compliance car.
So, while a great number of us EV fans would love to see Ford floor it and sell hundreds of thousands of Mach-e vehicles, alongside Tesla's growing deliveries, it doesn't look like that is going to happen, at least not yet. But maybe, just maybe, in a couple of years then Ford and other legacy automakers will begin to amp up the joules and let 'er rip. That is, if they're still around.
1. Eric Noble on Autoline After Hours Nov 21 2019: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sHpSxIPQ-o&t=573