Friday, December 23, 2022

Ford Mustang Mach-E

This is why Elon Musk is losing his mind.

I had a chance to see a Ford Mustang Mach-E up close today and speak with the owner.  He bought a basic model for about $42,000 sticker, with a 250-mile range (a little light - 300 seems to be the "go to" number these days).   But it was interesting to see.

Even as a base model it had a nicely stitched leather interior.  And all the door and body panels fit properly and evenly.   No trim pieces were falling off or loose.  It had the build quality of a typical Ford - perhaps slightly better - and that is not a bad thing.   Ford has made millions - billions - of cars since 1908.  They seem to have it figured out.

It is about the same size and shape as the Tesla Model Y, which unlike the Model-X, ditched the troublesome and pointless "gull wing" doors.  Given the bad press about those doors, I think they are not a selling point, but detract from the value of the Model-X.  The big difference is in price - the Tesla Model Y is nearly 50% ($20K) higher in price - and there is a substantial waiting list to get one, too.  The model X is more than double the price of a Mach-E.

If you need service for your car, well there is a Ford dealer in nearly every town in America.  Granted, not all may have qualified mechanics (yet) to work on the electronics, but everyday items, such as body, trim, brakes, and whatnot, can be repaired at the dealer.  Tesla?  The repair centers are few and far between, and the wait times for parts and the difficulty of repair are legendary.

And this is just one product from one manufacturer.   What will the EV market be like in 2023 and beyond, as nearly every automaker on the planet offers a line of EV models?   Tesla has made big noises about its poorly designed (and embarrassingly named) "cyber-truck" which, like the Elio, is slated for production "next year" (every year). Meanwhile, Ford and Chevrolet are actually selling EV pickups, without fanfare or noise or hyping their stock price on Twitter.  And despite the FUD, they probably will sell well for a niche market of users.

Tesla's P/E ratio is down from a staggering 1000 thanks to the collapse in share prices (investors are seeing the writing on the wall) to a still staggering 45 or so.  20 is a more rational target - either Tesla has to double profits or the share price has to drop by half to be rational, particularly in an era where Savings Bonds (Series I) are paying 6% or more for chrissakes.  Ford's P/E ratio is down to less than 8, which means Ford is earning a staggering 12.5% on investment, and paying dividends to boot!  The latter is something Tesla never has done and promises never to do.

So why the disparity in stock prices and car prices?   Well, Ford is an old-line manufacturing company with factories all across the globe.   Small investors don't find that sexy, as they are always looking for "The Next Big Thing!"   Also, no one at Ford is spending all day on Twitter (working those 120 hours a week!) hyping their share price with outright lies and misdirection.  Ford knows the rules and knows about the SEC so they can't and won't play fast-and-loose with the facts.  Instead of promises, they deliver vehicles.

Sadly, people are idiots and there are legions of fanboys (many of them bots or employees of Tesla) who go online and fawn over one man as though he were a tech genius and not just the johnny-come-lately investor of a company that already designed the product almost two decades ago.

First to Market is Last in the Marketplace.  The fellow I was talking to, had placed orders for a Tesla Model Y, a Ford Mach-E and a Nissan Leaf.  Ford delivered first and he cancelled the other orders.  "I'm glad I did, too!" he said, "with all the nonsense Elon Musk is up to, I don't think it would be cool to be seen driving a Tesla!"   Sadly, I have heard this from other people who already own Teslas and now are tagged with the new Hitler-mobile.  Kind of awkward to show up in a gay campground on drag weekend driving a Model-S (as I saw this weekend).  Park that shit out back!

EVs will not "replace" the IC-powered vehicle entirely.  I suspect that there will still be a lot of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles on the road for 20-30 years or more and even then, they will still exist for certain applications.  I see cars from the 1990's still on the road where I live, so in 2040, there will still be 2022 models going strong.   What will happen in the interim is a shakeout in the EV industry as so many automakers start making cars - with perhaps fewer customers than they anticipated.   As a result, there will be a price war and boutique, expensive models will find themselves priced out of the market.

The Ford Mach-E is just a shot across the bow.  Expect other competitive cars to enter the market shortly - at very attractive prices as well.  From what I can see, Tesla has a lot to worry about.