Ford out-Teslas Tesla; stock jumps to 20-year high

“Vision without execution is just hallucination.” – Henry Ford

Wise words indeed. Very rapid execution is what has been needed in the automotive industry over the past few years, as the once traditional business of making cars has suddenly gone through a revolution.

For motoring enthusiasts, it has been a revolution of great interest; that being one in which some of the world’s most famous marques have arrived at the crossroads which means that they have to suddenly modernize their product ranges and go ‘all-electric’, whilst at the same time maintain their pedigree.

It could be argued that the automotive industry is one of the few large business sectors in the world in which pedigree and marque distinction are vital to a brand’s success.

People buy into particular car brands because they like the ideology of a particular car manufacturer; perhaps its racing heritage, or its technologically advanced image, or prestige and perceived style and build quality.

These are unique areas in which any deviation from the core attraction to a particular brand could signal its end.

Many car companies in the past have fallen because they deviated from something far less significant than moving away from internal combustion engines. Saab, for example, a small company that made aircraft before it made cars, was once able to keep its customers for many years until suddenly it began using General Motors components and platforms, which ‘blanded out’ the designs and removed the essential DNA that made the product so unique. This resulted in loyalty disappearing and bankruptcy.

Ford Motor Company, one of the world’s most successful automotive companies, however, very rarely makes mistakes. Those who can remember the 1950s would perhaps cast their mind back to the one mistake the company has made in its entire 120 year history – the Edsel, however Ford is known for its astuteness and for knowing exactly what its customers want.

For this reason, Ford Motor Company stock has always been a steady, non-volatile blue-chip investment.

Yesterday, however, a massive surge upwards in the value of Ford Motor Company’s stock took place, taking it to a remarkable 20-year high by rising 11.67% in just one day.

Why would this be? Surely Ford is so established that its results and future plans are predictable and would not make so much difference?

Electricity is the reason.

Ford’s cars and trucks have always been a staple part of any motoring landscape, especially in their home market, the United States. For over 25 years, the F150 pickup truck has been Ford’s best-selling model, even though it is not available outside North America and some markets in the Middle East, and yesterday the company announced that its favorite utility vehicle is going fully electric.

Given that Tesla, the once-small start-up that began the electric car phenomena, is now capitalized at ten times the size of Ford Motor Company which is not only astonishing given Ford’s long history and its utter domination of the entire automotive world throughout the 1940s to the 1980s, that capitalization is based on ideology. People buy into Tesla because of its innovative disruptions and see it as not so much a car company but an aspirational thinking organization that will take us all into the future.

Combining the two, giving Ford’s dependable F150 fully electric power means that the familiar shape of America’s most popular mode of transport which is so ubiquitous that it is part of folklore is now doing what Teslas do but with an All-American, surefooted familiarity and Uncle Henry’s pedigree.

This is a momentous time for Ford and investors in its stock. Companies with such a steady and strong standing do not often jump in value so rapidly.

It is certainly one to watch.