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An Open Letter To Ford CEO Jim Farley

Written By: Jerry Reynolds | Jul 9, 2024 3:23:36 PM

Dear Mr. Farley,

We’ve met but let me re-introduce myself.  I am a nationally syndicated automotive talk show host, but more importantly I am a former Ford Dealer and was the first two-term Chairman of the esteemed Ford National Dealer Council.  I was also the largest volume Ford dealer in Texas for ten straight years, and the #1 seller of Ford pickups in America for over a decade.  I always said that if I were to cut myself, I would bleed blue.  I would add that as an automotive journalist for almost 24 years, I have followed your career at Toyota, and later with Ford.

This is the reason I was dismayed and disappointed in recent comments you made.  We have a saying in Texas: “Dance with the one who brung you”, and while not grammatically correct, the sentiment is. You don’t walk away from what made you successful.  Behind the Blue Oval is 47 years as the best-selling truck maker in America. I understand you are not walking away from trucks, but the focus at Ford (and General Motors, by the way) seems to be on nothing but electric vehicles.

With all due respect, you cannot force a market that is not there.  It’s been tried many times, and most recently on your watch.  Reports from the first quarter of 2024, that seemed to be backed up by financial disclosures, say that Ford lost in excess of $100,000 for every electric vehicle manufactured.  I’m not as smart as you are, but it seems to me, building fewer-not more of them, is a better business decision.

In your recent remarks, you said:

“We have to start to get back in love with smaller vehicles. It’s super important for our society and for EV adoption.”

I’m quite sure you cannot force love just because you say the words and you wish it to be true.  The EVs that have been sold so far have benefitted from a push by the U.S. Government, billions of dollars in government-funded rebates, and big tariffs put on Chinese products to level the playing field.  Generally speaking, when a business relies on government money, it is rarely successful, and history shows that over and over.

Americans will push back if you try to force them to do anything, but if you try to come between the people and their love affair with cars, you’ll become their adversary.  I don’t think any car company wants that, or any seller of goods for that matter.  I agree that there is a less than 10% factor of people who want electric cars and their lifestyles suit that.  Some people want an electric for environmental purposes, and that is commendable.  The electric car lovers should be catered to and pleased, but not at the expense of those who want a gas or hybrid vehicle.  For as long as history has been recorded, the majority rules.  They rule in business, too.

I was the Dealer Council Chairman when Jac Nasser held your position.  He was dead set on “diversifying” Ford, he went so far as to say that vehicles would be a small part of Ford.  He began investing millions of dollars in tech companies, body shops, wrecking yards, even Ford dealerships in competition with Ford Dealers.  I pleaded with Ford execs at the time, including Nasser, to stick to what made them successful:  building quality vehicles that people want to buy, key words are the last three.  That emphasis has not changed, and I don’t want to see history repeat itself.  The Nasser era was one of the worst in Ford history and cost the company literally billions of dollars.

One other of your comments that alarmed me:

“The first thing we have to do is really put all of our capital toward smaller, more affordable EVs.”

Capital is the synonym for cash, something precious and necessary to run a business.  Are you 100% sure you want to put all Ford’s cash toward smaller, more affordable EVs as you stated?  Is there evidence people will buy these small electrics?  We have overwhelming facts to show that Americans will buy gas-powered and hybrid trucks and SUVs, and they are even willing to buy a good number of gasoline sedans, which Ford does not produce.  Remember the Camry when you were at Toyota?

You didn’t ask me, but I do have some free advice for you:  Separate your personal feelings about electric vehicles from your duties as the CEO of Ford Motor Company.  You pocketed $26.5 million dollars in 2023, not because of electric vehicles, but in spite of electric vehicles.  Your #1 priority has to be to the stockholders of Ford, the Ford family, and the customers who helped you earn that kind of money by purchasing Ford products.

If you take anything away from this today, let it be that you cannot force electric cars on the public.  The market will decide when it is time to make the transition:  not you, not Ford, not the government.

So, dance with the one that brung you and when there is more proof America is ready, then go full speed ahead.  Your former colleagues at Toyota seem to grasp the concept very well.


All The Best,

Jerry Reynolds
President, Car Pro Radio Network