Ford Motor Co.’s plans to accelerate production and sales of battery-powered crossovers and pickups are turbocharging the company’s shares this month and pushed its market capitalization past that of larger rival General Motors to become the second-most valuable U.S. automaker behind Tesla.
Ford CEO Jim Farley, leading the company’s battery vehicle plans, said in December 2021 it would double production of both the fast-selling Mach-E electric crossover, a rival to Tesla’s Model Y, to 80,000 units in 2022. He unexpectedly followed that up this month by saying Ford would also boost its annual production target for the new F-150 Lightning pickup to 150,000 units from a previous 80,000-truck goal.
“The stock market’s attraction to the Ford EV story continues to take us by surprise,” Adam Jonas, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a research note Thursday. “While there are many OEMs developing and commercializing a range of EVs today, Ford brought to market a product (Mustang Mach-E) that consumers viewed as a truly viable competitor to the Tesla Model Y. Quickly following that, Ford is bringing to market the F-150 Lightning at a sub $40k price point right out of the gate.”
Ford’s 12% stake in startup electric truckmaker Rivian also benefits the company, Jonas said. And though unlike either Rivian or Tesla, Ford didn’t design a completely new platform for the Lightning, modifying its existing F-150 design, “this decision has enabled Ford to move FASTER to market. Will it be the most capable EV pickup truck on the road? Maybe not… but it’s available at least 1 year ahead of a similarly priced (GM Chevrolet) Ultium E-Silverado and can have an impact on share sooner than its peers.”
The Lightning, unveiled in May 2021, starts with a base price of $39,974 (before federal and state incentives) and driving range of 230 miles per charge for a version aimed at commercial customers. Top-end models capable of going 300 miles per charge and more luxurious features will cost more than $90,000. Ford has said it has at least 200,000 reservations for the truck. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also promised that the Cybertruck would have a base price of $39,900 and range of 250 miles per charge. (Still, no Tesla model, starting with the 2008 Roadster through the 2020 Model Y, has come to market and sold at the low end of Musk’s initial estimate.)