Ford CEO Jim Farley took a dig at Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday when he announced a major investment in solar power. The comment was intended to draw a comparison between Tesla’s long-delayed Cybertruck and Ford’s plug-in pickup, the F-150 Lightning.
Farley was speaking at a Ford plant in Michigan to announce a deal with DTE Energy, which both companies described as the “largest purchase of renewable energy from a utility in U.S. history.” But after touting the company’s shift to more sustainable sources, he quickly clashed with its main electric vehicle competitor, whom he has praised in the past for helping push the industry toward electric vehicles.
“At Ford, our real mission is to lead an electric and digital revolution for the many, not the few,” Farley said. “And I have to say, the shining light for us at Ford is this beautiful Lightning, which is made just around the corner in Dearborn, right here in the state of Michigan and is already the market leader of all EV pickup trucks in our industry in the United States States is.”
“At Ford, we truly have a mission to lead an electric and digital revolution for the many, not the few”
He added, “Take that, Elon Musk.”
First announced in 2019, the Tesla Cybertruck was originally scheduled to go into production in 2021, but Musk has said it will now launch in mid-2023. Meanwhile, the F-150 Lightning is currently the best-selling electric truck on the market, beating the only two other competitors, the Rivian R1T and the GMC Hummer EV.
Farley’s comment was likely intended as a light-hearted dig at Musk, who also used the Ford F-150 as a benchmark to measure the Cybertruck’s power and performance. (Tesla posted video of a tug-of-war between the Cybertruck and an F-150 in 2019, in which the electric truck easily overpowered the Ford pickup.)
Of course, Tesla outperforms Ford by a wide margin and owns around 75 percent of the EV market. The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are the two best-selling electric vehicles in the US, followed by the Ford Mustang Mach-E — but with 6,734 Mach-E deliveries in the first quarter of 2022, it’s a distant third, compared to 46,707 units for the model 3.
The solar deal aims to position Ford as a leader in renewable energy
The solar deal aims to position Ford as a leader in renewable energy. Under the terms of the agreement, Michigan-based DTE Energy will add 650 megawatts of solar power for Ford—equivalent to power 14,000 homes. The installation will increase the total amount of solar energy in the state by nearly 70 percent. And Ford said that by 2025, all of the electricity the company uses to manufacture its vehicles in Michigan will be met by purchasing renewable energy.
“It’s a strategic investment in Michigan designed to help us bring more clean energy to the grid sooner,” Farley said at a news conference. “We don’t have to rely on oil price spikes in economic cycles to maintain full employment.”
“It’s a strategic investment in Michigan to help us get more clean energy on the grid sooner”
To date, Amazon has claimed to be the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy. Earlier this year, the e-commerce giant announced several new projects aimed at expanding its portfolio by nearly 30 percent, from 12.2 GW to 15.7 GW. In comparison, today’s announcement from Ford equates to just 0.65 GW. Previously, Google said it was the “biggest corporate buyer” of renewable energy.
Also, the announcement of “purchasing carbon-free electricity” is different from actually using this renewable energy. Critics point out that these claims are often exaggerated to bolster a company’s good faith in green energy, citing research that has found that corporate actors often do not reduce pollution as much as they claim.