Automakers Ford & General Motors are Allowing Rival Tesla to Lead U.S. EV Production Until at Least 2026, Data Indicates

Automakers Ford & General Motors are Allowing Rival Tesla to Lead U.S. EV Production Until at Least 2026, Data Indicates

Author: FutureCar Staff    

As the auto industry shifts towards electrification spurred in part by the wild success of electric automaker Tesla, U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co and General Motors (GM) have both publicly shared their own ambitious plans for electric vehicles over the past two years. 

The two automakers plan to collectively build 325,000 electric vehicles per year by 2026, according to their executives and suppliers familiar with the automakers' plans, Reuters reports

Although its an ambitious goal for the two legacy automakers, the number of new EVs may not be nearly enough to gain any ground on Tesla. The combined output falls short of Tesla's 2019 production of around 365,300 vehicles, leaving doubt as to when Ford and GM might be able to compete with the success of Tesla. 

The 325,000 figure represents just 5% of GM's and Ford's total North American production and much less than what Tesla produced last year. For GM and Ford to remain competitive and stave off rivals like Tesla, BMW, Audi, Hyundai, all of which are introducing their own fully-electric cars, its likely they will need to increase their production of fully-electric vehicles.

Tesla's aggressive goals are even bigger this year.

Tesla is planning to build between 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, its highest number ever. The electric automaker's global output is also being boosted by its new gigafactory in Shanghai, its first overseas factory. The company's mass-market Model 3 sedan remains in high demand worldwide.

By collectively building only 325,000 EVs six years from now, GM and Ford are seemingly allowing Tesla to remain the world leader in electric vehicles for the foreseeable future, which might make both automakers less competitive if they don't have the advanced electric models that consumers want.

That's not to say that Ford and GM are not trying to catch up. Ford's hopes to rival Tesla with its first electric SUV named the Mach-E, a battery-powered crossover inspired by its iconic Mustang sports car that's due later this year. 

Ford plans to follow the Mach-E with an all-electric version of its best-selling F-150 pickup in 2021. Ford will also build an electric version of the popular Transit van for commercial customers, the company said.

Meanwhile. Ford's luxury arm Lincoln is building an electric crossover on a platform developed by electric vehicle startup Rivian. The electric SUV is due in 2022, according to suppliers.

Ford also has plans to introduce two new midsize electric crossovers, one under the Ford nameplate and one from Lincoln in 2023, suppliers said to Reuters.

GM was the first U.S. automaker to introduce a fully-electric car with the Chevy Bolt EV, which debuted as a 2017 model. However, sales of the Bolt EV have been less than anticipated. Sales of the Bolt EV in the U.S. fell from 23,297 in 2017 to just 16,418 in 2019. 

For comparison, Tesla sold 158,925 Model 3 sedans in the U.S. in 2019, according to data from Car Sales Base. The Model 3 debuted as a 2017 model less than three years ago. GM said a refreshed Bolt EV and a slightly larger model, the Bolt EUV, will go into production next year, which may boost its appeal. 

GM's Buick division is planning to introduce a midsize crossover and a companion SUV in 2023, the automaker said. It also expects to launch a new compact crossover about the same time, according to suppliers.

GM's luxury arm Cadillac is also jumping on the electric bandwagon and the luxury division is being positioned as a luxury electric brand that is poised to compete with luxury electric models like the Tesla Model X, Audi e-tron and Mercedes Benz EQC.

Cadillac showed off three upcoming EVs during GM's "EV Day" on March 4, including the mid-size Lyriq crossover, the Celestiq luxury flagship sedan, as well as a full-size SUV about the size and shape of its Escalade. 

The new electric crossover and SUV from Cadillac are likely to arrive in 2023, while the big sedan could be pushed forward to 2022, suppliers said to Reuters. Two other crossovers, a compact model about the size of the XT4 and a large seven-passenger model about the size of the XT6, are due in 2024, GM said.

During its EV Day earlier this month, GM showed off a midsize Chevrolet SUV, due in 2023, that will be joined a year later by a compact crossover, according to suppliers. GM has said a full-size electric pickup is just around the bend — 2023, suppliers said.

GM is also electrifying its resurrected Hummer brand. The first vehicle from Hummer will be a fully-electric pickup model that will debut as a 2021 model, followed by a smaller electric SUV in 2023.  GM's truck division GMC will offer a compact and midsize electric crossovers in 2025, according to suppliers.

While all of these new electric models are a positive sign that the two U.S. automakers are committing to building new electric models, they are seemingly reluctant to let go of their most profitable categories—full-size, gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs.

GM and Ford still expect to build nearly 40 different truck models and SUVs in North America, most of them powered by gas engines over the next five years, This will account for more than 5 million trucks and SUVs in at least 25 plants in North America by mid-decade, according to data.

This gives Tesla plenty of room to gain additional market share in the U.S., unless GM and Ford revisit their electrification goals.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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