When many investors think of electric vehicle (EV) stocks, they likely think of the industry's pioneer, Tesla, leading Chinese players like Nio or perhaps U.S. upstarts like Lucid Group. But guess which of these EV companies increased its EV sales by a whopping 176% in July?

It's a trick question -- it wasn't any of these companies. It was none other than legacy big three automaker Ford Motor Company (F 0.17%).

Two smiling people wait for an electric vehicle to charge at a charging station in a city.

Image source: Getty Images.

Electric surge

Ford looks like it's firing on all cylinders, according to its July sales numbers: Total vehicle sales increased by 36.6% and EV sales by 176% compared to last July. These numbers are coming off a low base, as the company sold 7,700 electric vehicles in July, but they show that it's gaining some serious momentum in this category. Ford's EV sales for 2022 now stand at 30,648, with five months left to go in the year.

One number stands out even more: Overall auto sales declined by 10.5% in July, according to estimates by Cox Automotive. This means that Ford's products are in demand even as the overall vehicle market is tepid, and that Ford is taking share from competitors. Ford estimates that it now has about a 10.9% market share in EVs in the United States, its highest share ever.

Ford CEO Jim Farley said on the second-quarter earnings call: "We believe that these great new products will help us to grab an outsized share of the rapidly growing EV market, combined with our healthy and vibrant shares of our ICE [internal combustion engine] and growing hybrid markets."

Ford is gaining traction in the EV market by producing electric versions of its most popular vehicles, which looks like a wise strategy. The F-Series is already the best-selling vehicle in the United States, so why not build on this popularity with the electric F-150 Lightning? Similarly, the Mustang is an iconic American muscle car, so the electric Mustang Mach-E has instant appeal to many drivers, and is Consumer Reports' top electric vehicle for 2022.

And it's not just the everyday consumer market that Ford is electrifying: Ford's Transit van has long been a mainstay for commercial fleets, and its electric version, the E-Transit, is so far lapping the field in the nascent market for electric work vehicles. Furthermore, the company also recently unveiled the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro Special Service Vehicle, which is specifically tailored for use by police departments, 12,000 of which Ford currently counts as customers.

The market is taking note

The market seems to be taking notice of Ford's success in EVs finally. Shares are up 40% over the past month, and July was the stock's best month since the Great Recession.

But this doesn't mean that it's too late to invest in Ford. Even after this scorching hot July performance, shares are still down 24% year to date and 40% off of their 52-week high. They trade at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 5, which is far cheaper than the broader market.

Some discount is warranted, as the auto industry is cyclical, and the economy is in the middle of a period of uncertainty. Furthermore, the auto industry is trying to work through supply chain challenges that have dogged it since the pandemic. It should be noted that Ford's stock has underperformed the broader market for decades and that there have been plenty of 'false starts' before.    But with the stock's current P/E and dividend yield -- nearly 4% after the company just increased its dividend by 50% -- it looks like a good value if CEO Jim Farley can continue to execute on his turnaround plan and if the market begins to reevaluate Ford based on this progress. 

Can Ford's stock keep its foot on the gas?

Ford has an attractive lineup of electric vehicles hitting the market and finding early success with consumers, so things are looking up. Its stock is a unique way for investors to gain exposure to electric vehicles, with a profitable company that trades at an attractive valuation and pays out a significant dividend.