What happened

Ford (F -1.07%) stock popped Wednesday morning after the company reported its July 2022 vehicle sales numbers. The news brought other U.S. automaker stocks with it, too. After rising by as much as 6.5%, Ford shares were still 2.9% higher as of 11:16 a.m. ET. Rival General Motors (GM 0.67%) and electric vehicle (EV) start-up Lordstown Motors (RIDE -3.57%) also rode the news upward, gaining 3.6% and 5.4%, respectively. 

So what

Ford's numbers surprised industry analysts, who had estimated that overall industry sales would drop by 10.5% year over year. Ford saw sales strength across its lineup, including a nearly 70% gain in SUV sales. While its EV sales were being compared to a low 2021 base, they nonetheless soared by 169%. That Ford segment, which currently includes its Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning, and E-Transit van, grew at triple the rate of the overall EV industry in July, according to the company. The news bodes well for GM as well as EV start-ups like Lordstown. 

Now what

Ford also said sales of its hybrid F-150 and Maverick pickup trucks grew by 35.3% during the month. The company recently announced it would offer a new off-road package for its popular Maverick. The company hopes the entry-level pickup truck will help bring new customers to its brand. 

Both Ford and GM are beginning to ramp up production of their EV lineups. Ford sold more than 7,600 EVs during the month, and it's now delivering its F-150 Lightning to all 50 states. At the same time, both Ford and GM are trying to grow the use of their respective self-driving technologies. Ford said it now has 66,500 paying customers for its BlueCruise hands-free driver-assist technology. General Motors, meanwhile, has plans to double the road network for its hands-free driver assistance technology.  

Ford and GM have both told investors their future prospects will rely on electric vehicle sales. Ford plans to use profits from its legacy internal combustion engine models to fund $50 billion in growth investments, most notably in its Ford Model e electric vehicle segment. Ford will break out the financial results of its EV, internal combustion, and commercial vehicle segments for investors beginning next year. 

GM has staked its future on EVs, as it has said it plans to exclusively sell electric vehicles by 2035. Similarly, Lordstown's business depends solely on the success of its upcoming Endurance electric pickup truck. Wednesday's report from Ford shows that electric vehicles' popularity continues to grow, and investors think that's a good sign for all related parties.