Gaffe Classic: Alan Mulally on EVs – The Curious Case of the $70,000 Battery

I follow industry news religiously at AutomotiveNews.I used to gobble it up when I’s go to the library, and have been a subscriber since the TTAC days. It’s by far the dominant voice in the car industry, and my son Ed now works there, as their Silicon Valley reporter. I’ve said it repeatedly: if you really want to understand the industry, subscribe to AN and read it every day.

Except of course sometimes it’s a bit painful. Like this story on former Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s keynote address to the National Auto Auction Association’s annual convention. He comes off embarrassingly misinformed about EVs and battery costs, saying that “there are companies that sell you a $120,000 car and it rides along on a $70,000 battery. So it makes no sense”. A $70,000 battery? Maybe Alan needs to keep up on his industry news, as Tesla’s battery prices are closer to one-tenth of that (currently $114 per KWh cell cost and about $140-150 per KWh complete pack cost, and dropping steadily). And the rest of the industry is not far behind.

Maybe it’s just PR, as Ford has been particularly aggressive in trying to knock down Tesla for years.  More likely it’s sour grapes, as Tesla’s current market capitalization ($59.68 billion) dwarfs Ford’s, at $36.04 billion. Is it any coincidence that former GM exec Bob Lutz has been predicting Tesla’s imminent death when GM’s market cap ($49.53 billion) is also dwarfed by Tesla’s. And he’s been at it for years now on tv? Can you guys retire already?

Here’s a good one of both Bob and…Bob Nardelli, former Chrysler destroyer CEO, predicting doom and gloom about Tesla, and how it absolutely won’t ever generate profits (it has since then) and will absolutely fail. Tesla stock was $305 at the time; it’s around $350 currently, despite the current high-tech sell-off.

Where were these guys in 2007-2008? They sure as hell weren’t on tv endlessly predicting the inevitable deaths of GM and Chrysler. I find it a sad commentary on the state of the media when these two destroyers of billions of dollars of equity in their companies are invited to give their opinions on something they obviously don’t get.

Hint: Alan, Bob and Bob; do what car execs did back in the 50s: retire to the golf courses in Florida and STFU.

Please note: I am not a “Tesla fan”; I’m a Tesla watcher, but the watching can be mighty painful at times.