When, in a former life, I wrote speeches for top execs at Volkswagen, I never made my guy admit failure. Bad for his career and my business. The secret phrase for full retreat was: “This is one of the many options we are looking at. We are in a changing world and must change with it.”
I must have a less circumspect colleague at Ford.
“Electric is a focus of investment,” Ford CEO William Ford said yesterday at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics Conference in Santa Barbara. And then he dropped the bombshell:
“We still don’t know what the winning technology is going to be…We’re continuing to invest in hydrogen, we’re continuing to invest in biofuels.”
Ford bluntly reminded us that EVs had been tried before and failed:
“Prior to the Model T, a third of all vehicles in this country were electric… this isn’t a new technology. The reason it died away was the ubiquity of charging. Today, we have the same issue.”
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Ford “has no certainty that an electric grid will be developed that is capable of supporting droves of electric vehicles on the roads.”
Here is a nugget which I would have never dared to put into a speech, and as my victims will attest, I never was shy:
“We’ve made a big bet on electric… but the pace at which that develops, I think anyone who can tell you that is lying.”
What is most significant is the choice of venue for these choice words. It was like preaching Satanism to a nun’s convent. According to a survey conducted at the ECO:nomics conference, half of the respondents said they planned to buy an electric car in the next decade. Most likely, they lied also.