Only one word.
That’s all Ford CEO Jim Farley used to respond to Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday.
“Tesla and Ford are the only American automakers who haven’t gone bankrupt on thousands of auto startups. Prototypes are easy, production is tough and the positive cash flow is excruciating,” Musk tweeted Thursday.
Farley retweeted Musk early Friday saying only “Respect”.
The reaction on Twitter was swift with likes, retweets and spicy comments.
Musk, of course, quietly acknowledges the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, which are now part of Stellantis. Staying afloat during the Great Recession ten years ago has long been a source of pride for Ford.
Elon Musk has 48.5 million followers on Twitter.
Jim Farley, who took the helm as CEO on October 1, now has 27,200.
Farley succeeds CEO Jim Hackett, who had retired from Steelcase office furniture and was not present on Twitter during his three years.
“Today’s tweet demonstrates that businesses can be competitive and respectful,” said Melissa Bradley, business professor at Georgetown University.
Musk, 49, is a self-made billionaire who grew up in South Africa and now launches rockets into space. Farley, 58, is a racing car driver son in the auto industry whose grandfather worked at a Ford factory.
Both executives were in the spotlight this week as the all-electric 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E began to steal customers from the dominant all-electric automaker, as Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas typifies.
Tesla, founded in 2003, has dominated the electric vehicle market with its Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y. Hobbyists refer to the product line as SEXY. In 2020, Tesla delivered 499,550 vehicles.
In February, Ford sold 3,739 Mach-E SUVs in its first full month of sales, which caught Wall Street’s attention. Ford sold 3,977 Mach-Es in 2021, according to its sales reports.
Jonas released his analysis to Morgan Stanley investors on Tuesday and to the media on Wednesday, saying: “Mustang Mach-E steals top Tesla sales” and “Tesla’s share of the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market has declined significantly at 69% against 81% the previous year. The Ford Mustang Mach-E accounted for almost 100% of the stock loss. “
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Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.com, said Musk’s tweet illustrates that Ford is a priority. Purchasing data shows Ford immediately slashes Tesla’s profits, she said.
“The Mustang Mach-E is capturing the interest of Tesla buyers,” Krebs said. “We have to recognize that Tesla is going to lose market share. It had 100% and it cannot stay 100% when competitors come into the market. In February, Ford was its biggest competitor.”
“If you look at Ford’s sales numbers, if they continue at this rate, they would be the top-selling non-Tesla electric vehicle this quarter,” she said. “Chevy Bolt has always been that. We are waiting for those sales figures.”
Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512 or[email protected].