Through the years, for obvious reasons, the pathways of Ford and GM have always been intertwined. Their leaders have always been compared. Today, the differences are glaring. This is not Jacques Nasser and Rick Wagoner, but it is Silverados and physics.
"I couldn't be more excited about the Chevrolet Silverado launch," Barra told employees. "This is an example of putting the customer at the center of everything we do — the start of our truck story. Silverado, GMC Sierra, heavy-duty, full-size SUVs. And we have more to tell on Silverado."
Hackett admits he is still trying to work on rallying the company to "follow me."
"The clarity of what this future is, is undeniable to me," he said. "I'm humble about that, but I think I have a pretty good handle on what that is."
Barra has taken an equally humble and quiet approach, leading GM to a stock surge and a wave of announcements that have positioned the company as a leader into the future.
"GM is in the lead in getting autonomous vehicles onto the road," she said. "Our transformative perspective is extremely important work going on in EV and AV."
Hackett is now in a position where he needs to define exactly where Ford is going — with specifics, objectives and goals that Wall Street can digest and comprehend.
He's had the time to formulate the plan, and suppliers and dealers want to know what tangible aspect they can hang onto that defines the next Ford.
His approach is professorial with a trajectory that, initially, appears to be patterned more after a guy named Jobs than Quality is Job 1.
"What if I said you have to travel the speed of light to be fast? Well, you can't," he said. "So how would you beat it? You need to aim ahead, where it's going to be. Ford is aiming ahead of where it has to be, because it has to be ahead in order for people to believe our strategy isn't about catching up to someone else's old view."
And, for a moment last week, two contemporary Detroit worlds collided.
And this is the important part of the new Detroit story — one that we will confidently look back on at some point and poignantly recall as the pivot in the conversation of leadership, direction and vision.
Physics. Trucks. Moore's law. Journeys. Birds. And bees.
"We're scratching the surface on what this company can accomplish," Barra said.
"Ethos is the character of a company. It was defined by not taking money in a bailout and defining now the areas where smart beats smart and we win. And how much ahead we can get."
Get ready for the ride.