On the opening day of this year’s Chicago Auto Show, I attended a luncheon that was essentially nothing more than a sick trap. The food was spectacular, but I learned firsthand that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. All who were foolish enough to accept a plate were forced to listen to an unbearable and excessively drawn-out Q&A session with Joseph R. Hinrichs, the Executive Vice President and President of the Americas for Ford Motor Company.
There weren’t many takeaways from the dull exchange that took place, but there was one answer from Hinrichs that stood out among the rest. Following a question about electric vehicles, the Executive Vice President confessed that Ford owned a Tesla Model S and had taken it apart and rebuilt it to better understand exactly how the systems of the premium electric sedan worked.
When Hinrichs drew mention to the company’s personal Model S back in February, he did so in passing, and at the time it was likely a lesser known fact that Ford owned a set of keys to one of the electric cars. That is no longer the case, however.
Earlier this morning, during a conference call with Wall Street investment analysts, Ford CEO Mark Fields stated that they possess the expertise and the ability to build a Tesla-style, high performance, long-range electric vehicle.
Likely in an effort to back that claim, he confirmed the Model S statements first leaked by Joseph Hinrichs saying, “We drove it. We took it apart. We put it back together and we drove it again.”
Here’s the kicker though.
Fields did not go on to say that they would be building this Tesla-like model. He just said that they could, and then noted that the technology of the Tesla Model S is consistent with their product philosophy. So, instead of attempting to contend with the Model S, it’s likely that the automaker will use it as inspiration to produce a larger electric vehicle that puts performance and mileage range at the top of its priority list. Kind of a cop out if you ask me.
“You know we could manufacture a model that would give one of the fastest-growing tech companies a run for its money, but we just don’t feel like it right now.”
Talk is cheap, and seeing as Fields still hasn’t elaborated on the subject, it is still unclear as to whether or not the company will pursue this supposed new electric offering. There’s a good chance that he is just trying to get investors drooling, but whether or not the CEO is serious, it’s not likely that he will show us his D anytime soon.
But he could. If he wanted to.