Ford CEO Jim Farley believes he’s got the blueprint for the Detroit-area automaker to become a top player in the EV market — starting with the people needed to compete with Tesla Inc. in the growing EV market.
Appearing on CNBC’s Investing Club with Jim Cramer Thursday, Farley said the company was well positioned to close the gap between the segment leader — and most valuable automaker in the world — in terms of products and public perception.
“We now have the talent in the company,” Farley said, citing the recent addition of Doug Field, who once worked at Tesla and most recently was at Apple. He was also thought to be one of the key managers on the long-rumored Apple Car program.
Farley also noted the company needed to get its EV production up to scale. Tesla produced about 500,000 vehicles in 2020 and is expected to surpass that number this year. On top of that, the Tesla’s going to further expand that capability for 2022, opening two new Gigafactories: one in Berlin and a second near Austin, Texas.
Churning out products
Despite this, Farley expressed confidence in the legacy automaker’s ability to make up lost ground quickly. He noted the company’s initial plans for the F-150 Lightning pickup called for production of about 70,000 to 80,000 units, it’s since doubled that number.
“We’ve done it in the past,” he said. “You know, don’t bet against Ford when we have to increase capacity — this is what we do.”
Farley, who was asked about Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk repeatedly during the interview, managed to avoid offering any real speculation about the EV maker, even offering praise at one point. However, he did manage to take on jab at the California-based company.
“We don’t want to build these vehicles in tents,” he said. “We want to build them in our beautiful Rouge facility where my grandfather worked.”
Ford is building the all-electric full-size pickup at a facility on the historic Rouge campus near Detroit. The new trucks are expected to become available midyear 2022.