DETROIT — The long-simmering rivalry between Detroit's two largest automakers has sparked an electric vehicle arms race that's intensifying by the week and converting many Wall Street skeptics into believers.
General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have spent much of the past year making one big-ticket EV reveal after another, from the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq to the F-150 Lightning and E-Transit van.
The two automakers also keep trying to one-up each other's plans to invest billions of dollars in EVs and eventually shift away from internal-combustion engines. Ford's Lincoln luxury brand last week committed to four battery-electric vehicles by 2030, while GM promised two additional U.S. battery plants as it raised its EV and autonomous vehicle investment to $35 billion through 2025. That followed Ford's pledge of $30 billion toward EVs several weeks earlier, though the companies use different time frames that prevent straightforward dollar-to-dollar comparisons.
The moves have put a charge into both companies' stock prices, which have roughly doubled since last fall. This month, Ford shares hit their highest value in more than five years. GM stock reached a record high this month since returning to the market after the company's 2009 bankruptcy.
"Wall Street wants to invest in what could be," Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions, told Automotive News. "So when [GM CEO] Mary Barra says we'll hit this 2035 target, the stock price goes up. It really tickles the investment community because that's where they want to put their money right this second."
The moves are more than just competitive gamesmanship. Each shows the companies' growing convictions that the industry is headed toward an all-electric future and that failure to change with the times fast enough could be fatal.
"EV adoption is increasing and reaching an inflection point," GM CFO Paul Jacobson told reporters on a conference call last week. "We want to be ready to reach the capacity that we need to meet demand over time."