What happened

Shares of Ohio electric-van maker Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS) were trading higher on Friday after CNBC personality and host of Mad Money Jim Cramer offered somewhat bullish comments on the stock. 

As of 2:30 p.m. EST, Workhorse's shares were up about 10.6% from Thursday's closing price.

So what

When a listener asked about Workhorse during his "Lightning Round" segment on Thursday evening, Cramer -- surprisingly -- offered a somewhat bullish take:

Workhorse has got that momentum that I see periodically ... I think Workhorse is really a show horse, but Workhorse is connected with Lordstown." [Workhorse owns 10% of electric-pickup start-up Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ:RIDE).] Look, it is basically a technology company that builds high-performance electric vehicles, and people love that so much...I'm not going to get in their way anymore. I'm too jaded. Go ahead, buy Workhorse. There, I said it.

Is he right? 

Two Workhorse vans parked in front of the company's headquarters.

Workhorse recently began shipping its C-Series electric-delivery vans. Image source: Workhorse Group.

Now what

On the one hand, I get it: Everyone wants to own the next Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). Given Tesla's huge run-up over the last couple of years, and the more recent runs-up of some other electric-vehicle stocks, like NIO (NYSE:NIO), owning a bunch of up-and-coming electric-vehicle stocks seems like a pretty good bet right now. 

On the other hand, Workhorse is a company that has been around for a long time and hasn't yet created a whole lot of value. It just began shipping a "last mile" electric package-delivery van, and it's hoping...hoping to ship about 1,800 of those vans in 2021.

To be fair, the fact that it's shipping vehicles puts it ahead of some of the electric-vehicle start-ups that have drawn intense interest from auto investors over the last few months. But while Workhorse is arguably the first mover in its particular niche, at least in the U.S., some very big competition is coming: Commercial-vehicle leader Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) will launch an electric version of its category-leading Transit commercial van next year. 

Workhorse might yet stake out a profitable niche for itself as U.S. commercial-vehicle fleets migrate to zero-emission vehicles. But if you're investing in Workhorse because you think it's going to beat global giants like Ford at what is really their game, you may be betting on the wrong horse.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.