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Tesla and Ford are two of the most popular automakers in the States, but both tend to attract different clientele. Ford’s most popular vehicle is the Ford-150, a powerful truck that outsells its rivals (and pretty much everything else) each year. Ford also manufactured the Mustang, a legendary sports car that’s been around since the ’60s.

Tesla is mainly focused on luxury EVs, though most of them do have sporty handling qualities. The CEOs of both companies also come from vastly different backgrounds. However, as The Drive reports, that doesn’t stop these two from subtly complimenting each other on social media.

The executives of Ford and Tesla

Elon Musk is definitely the more popular of the two, and not just for his hot takes on Twitter. Besides his involvement with Tesla, he’s also had a hand in developing the Boring Company tunnels and PayPal. His recent ventures involve planning for human exploration on Mars and controversial Neurolink devices.

On the other hand, James D. Farley (or “Jim”) seems like a much more conventional pick for a CEO. Ford is the most notable company he’s associated with, inherited from Jim Hackett. Beforehand, Farley led Ford’s Technology and Strategy departments in the U.S. and acted as president for the company’s overseas divisions.

Ford shouts out Tesla

Ford Motor Company's chief executive officer Jim Farley poses next to the newly unveiled electric F-150 Lightning outside of their headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan
Ford CEO Jim Farley and the Ford F-150 Lightning | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

The most recent display of Farley’s fondness toward Tesla was during the press release for the electrified Ford F-150 Lightning. Along with showcasing his company’s own vehicles, Farley named Tesla as a brand that “changed the status quo.” Farley also praised Elon Musk publicly on Twitter for the successful launch of a SpaceX rocket.

Farley probably appreciated Musk’s cameo on SNL recently, since his Twitter bio contains a reference to white vans by the river. That’s a quote from a Chris Farley sketch, the late cousin of Jim. Many entertainment critics weren’t pleased with Musk’s performance, and Farley might not have problems poking fun at him either.

When announcing Ford’s new BlueCruise hands-free driving system, he mentioned that it already tested “so customers don’t have to.” Many saw this as a jab towards Tesla’s AutoPilot program that has caused numerous driver fatalities and injuries.

Elon Musk’s Twitter response

Musk didn’t respond to the BlueCruise tweet directly, but he did react to an auto news account’s tweet. While the iconic scene from Tommy Boy definitely doesn’t present a safe ride, the tweet doesn’t come off as malicious. At least, we hope not: it would be incredibly poor taste, considering Farley’s cousin was included in the scene.

Musk was actually the first to initiate the friendship with Farley. He mentioned on Twitter that both Ford and Tesla were the only two American automakers to avoid bankruptcy.

It’s highly unconventional for two competing automakers to praise each other, but Farley responded with encouragement. Musk has also thanked Farley when he offered congratulations for SpaceX.

Where’s the love for Tesla?

While Teslas seem to be all the rage, some industry members don’t hold much faith in the company’s staying power. As The Drive previously reported, most of Tesla’s profits aren’t from actual auto sales. In 2018, almost $190 million of Tesla’s revenue for the third quarter came from selling pollution credits. 

However, some of Tesla’s regulatory credit customers are expected to withdraw their support since more automakers have EVs of their own. Tesla also gets a hefty chunk of change from Bitcoin (which probably is changing), another precarious market. Additionally, more EVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E have proven worthy adversaries to Tesla vehicles from a performance standpoint.

A competitive market combined with the loss of two primary funding sources could make for a major loss. A joint partnership between Ford and Tesla would bring the company back up to speed, should it be necessary. 


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