Ford Vs. GM After years of development, legacy Detroit automakers, General Motors and Ford, are now entering the market for electric trucks. – These are among the first electric vehicles from both companies. And I think the reason is it’s, you know this is the most important part of their business, pickup trucks.
In the race to electrify their pickups, the automakers pursued two distinct strategies. Ford decided to retrofit its existing F-150 by adding a battery in the place of its fossil fuel engine. GM chose a more challenging path by designing a new battery system and vehicles from the ground up.
So, how did each company race to develop its new electric vehicles and what sets Ford and GM technology apart in the highly competitive EV truck race? Earlier this year, General Motors revealed its Silverado EV, a plug-in version of GM’s top-selling vehicle that will go on sale in the spring of 2023.
It will offer a revolutionary mix of capability, performance, safety, flexibility and design. – GM started very early on with sort of a ground-up approach. You know they decided, okay, we don’t want to just do one or two EVs. We tried that in the past. We haven’t gotten very far. We want to do a bunch of models.
Our clean slate approach allowed us to create a new body architecture that efficiently leverages the available 24 module Ultium battery pack. All of GM’s new EVs will be built on the company’s Ultium battery platform which GM developed in-house from scratch.
The electric Silverado will also use the Ultium system when it is released in the spring of 2023, with prices ranging from about $40,000 to $105,000. One of the Silverado’s biggest selling points is its range. Thanks to GM’s investment, the Ultrium system, a Silverado’s expected to have a 400-mile range on some models.
That’s more than Rivian’s R1T, which can travel 314 miles and the F-150 Lightning, which is expected to have a range of around 300 miles. – I think for years, the perception’s been that GM has been ahead on their electric vehicle strategy. I mean, as far back as 2017 GM started talking about an all-electric future.
Shortly thereafter, they started you know, giving us targets of how many models, you know, a few dozen models by the early 2020s. You know I think all of those things were in motion at a point where Wall Street was kind of asking Ford, you know, where is where all these elements, you know, where is your EV strategy going essentially?
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Ford Vs. GM and The Reservations
Just a day before GM unveiled this new Silverado, Ford announced that it was doubling down its manufacturing goals for its EV pickup, the F-150 Lightning in response to an unexpectedly high number of reservations. That news sent Ford stock surging on January 4th and helped propel the automakers market valuation beyond that of GM for the first time since 2016.
Their stock price went up I think 11 or 12% that day, which is until recently kind of unheard of for an automaker. I mean, these things trade like manufacturing stocks kind of boring. And so it was, it was definitely some gamesmanship I think, Ford trying to steal a bit of GM’s thunder on its, on its Silverado truck.
The move comes as the century-old rivalry between GM and Ford is moving into the electric vehicle age. – [Mike] These companies, they’ve battled in just about every facet of the auto industry. And, you know, the companies don’t really like each other that much.
Ford followed a different path, then GM to electrify its pickup. Rather than create a new EV from the ground up, Ford’s strategy for the F-150 Lightning was to retrofit an existing F150 and turn it into an EV. – [Reporter] Mr President. – This sucker’s quick.
The decision on Ford’s part was, well, we want to get into the market with some of the cars that we know our customers love. We already have a strong sort of brand with the F-150 pickup truck, the Mustang. So let’s work with that.
Unlike the Silverado EV, which looks very different from its gas-fed predecessor, the Silverado 1500, the F-150 Lightning is similar aesthetically to its fuel-powered older sibling.
Ford Vs. GM and The Modifications of Trucks
And so in the case of the F150, they essentially modified a gas-powered pickup truck, you know, took out the engine transmission, put in a big battery pack and the electric motors and everything they needed. Engineering a wholly new electric truck would have taken longer to develop.
The retrofit enabled Ford to move quickly and beat GM to market by over a year. It also allowed Ford to leverage its scale since Lightning uses many of the same parts as a conventional F-150. Ford priced the F-150 Lightning at around $40,000 for a base model. High-end models top out in the high 90 thousand.
Popping the hood has been completely redefined at the mega power frunk. – It’s got a huge front trunk called a frunk, you know, and so they’ve made a big deal about, hey, you’ve got lockable storage now for the first time in a pickup truck.
GM’s trucks are sold under two brands, Chevy and GMC. In some years, GM’s pickup sales under those two brands have eclipsed total F series sales. But the F-150 has long been the most popular vehicle in the country outselling all other cars, trucks and SUVs.
But it remains unclear if customers will follow the brand into its electric future. – That’s the big question hanging over the whole industry right now is all these models are coming are there, you know, how much organic interest is there among consumers? Those up to the job site.
Ford Vs. GM and The Advance Features
Ford has been aggressively promoting the F-150 lightning to make the case that their new vehicle’s features surpass the gasoline model. One ad shows a family using their Lightning to provide backup power to their house. Ford said it has 200,000 Lightning reservations.
For context, that’s more than a quarter of the number of F series vehicles the company sold in 2021, But these reservations are not a firm commitment. – These are not binding 200,000 reservations. I mean anyone can just walk away from it. But I think Ford is looking at this like this could move faster than we thought.
Sales for electric vehicles rose 88% year over year in 2021. – Both these companies realize that if we’re gonna have success here, we’re going to have to carry these products that have delivered so much value and so much profit for these companies, these big pickup trucks.
You know that rivalry seems like it’s as sharp as ever as both companies try to sort of positioning themselves for that.