General Motors (GM 0.74%) and Ford Motor (F 0.17%) have co-existed throughout American automotive history like chocolate and vanilla in your favorite ice cream parlor. But today consumers are feeling the squeeze at the gas pump, and Tesla's success has made it appear that electric vehicles are the future.
Although General Motors and Ford share similarities, their different strategies to pursue growth in electric vehicles could make one a superior long-term investment to the other. Read on to find out which is more likely to 5X over the coming decade and beyond.
Ford is racing to a quick start
Ford's pulled no punches, bringing its three most popular models to the EV market, including the Mustang (Mach-E), F-150 Series (F-150 Lightning), and Ford Transit Van (E-Transit).
Ford is ramping up production of all three. In June, it delivered total sales of 4,353 vehicles, which included: 1,937 Mach-Es, 559 E-Transits, and 1,837 F-150 Lightnings. For the entire second quarter, sales approached 16,000 EVs.
Meanwhile, General Motors delivered 7,217 in the second quarter and relied heavily on the Chevy Bolt, which accounted for 6,945 units, with the rest being Hummer EVs.
General Motors has hit a few bumps in the road, including a battery recall on the Bolt last year, and Hummer EV production that has struggled, reportedly putting out just 12 Hummer EVs daily. However, General Motors is investing heavily into its factories to ramp up production, and is switching to using its Ultium batteries later this year.
Ford scores points for bringing top-brand models to market first. However, General Motors will eventually launch more prominent models, including an electric Silverado and Corvette -- both are confirmed, but likely won't hit the market for two to three years. And the Cadillac Lyriq just hit production within the past couple of months.
Both will bring new EV models to market over the coming years, and production will keep climbing. But remember, Tesla is delivering a quarter-million vehicles per quarter, so both have a long way to catch up. However, one could argue that Ford's gotten an initial lead on General Motors.
But General Motors is playing the long game
Please don't assume that Ford's current momentum makes it the runaway favorite over the long term. Each company is taking a different approach that could impact its long-term journey.
Ford is currently trying to walk down two paths at once; It's separated its combustion engine business from its EV segment, calling them Ford Model E and Ford Blue. Management plans for EVs to represent one-third of global production by 2026, or about two million vehicles.
On the other hand, General Motors has leaned more heavily into EVs as the company's future. It's announced plans to phase combustion engines entirely out of its product lines by 2035.
It's too early to know whether straddling the two technologies or committing to electric is the right move, and it comes down to execution just as much as strategy. However, it seems that General Motors is taking a more aggressive swing for the fences with its investments and stated plans, which could give it a higher ceiling if its plans work out.
Verdict: The winner is...
You can see below how similar these two companies are today, but you're looking for the one most likely to not only perform over the long-term, but appreciate fivefold from its current market cap.
Today, General Motors seems poised for the long-term growth needed for the stock to appreciate. Management targets revenue between $275 billion and $315 billion by 2030, with up to $30 billion from software businesses like autonomous driving company Cruise and Ultifi, a Linux-based software platform that will make it easier for third parties to bring apps and new features to GM vehicles.
Ford's not sitting on its hands, with ongoing efforts to develop its autonomous vehicle technology. Still, its hesitation to fully embrace electric vehicles might leave it flat-footed if consumers adopt EVs faster than anticipated.
General Motors has to deliver on these ambitious goals, and investors will need to watch the transition play out for years to come. Still, success might give General Motors the juice it needs to produce the long-term investment returns investors are hoping to see.