Former Ford CEO Mark Fields believes the toughest part of the electric vehicle story is coming.
Fields is currently the CEO of Hertz, a rental agency that reported a tough earnings call last week as the company pointed at EVs as the reason for its tumultuous quarter.
Before Hertz, Fields was President and CEO of Ford before Jim Farley, who has heavily pushed for the Detroit automaker to adopt EVs and become the leading name among legacy automakers that have transitioned to electrification.
Fields has been somewhat of a proponent in the EV transition as he has called Tesla the “EV benchmark” and also was a proponent for the massive order that Hertz put in for 100,000 Tesla vehicles in 2021.
Although there is plenty of support for EVs in Fields’ analysis of the sector, he is also somewhat of a realist, and is willing to talk about how the toughest part of the electric vehicle story is on the way, at least in his opinion.
Fields believes now that early EV adopters have come to the forefront, bought their cars, and become known as the first people to shift away from ICE in favor of a sustainable powertrain, the hard part will be getting those who have not yet switched to do so.
“Over time, you’re going to see the industry propulsion systems shift to full battery electric,” Fields said in an interview with CNBC. “The issue is, what’s the time frame for that? There’s a lot of excitement around the early adopters; now you’re getting to the tough part of mass adoption.”
He also pointed out that many legacy car companies are not yet turning a profit, and that their EV business is still being fueled by the ICE sales that make many companies money.
“You’ve got to keep that golden goose keep producing for them,” Fields added.
It took a long time for industry leader Tesla to turn a profit. In Q3 2018, it turned a profit for the first time, and 2020 was the first full year that Tesla actually made money as a company, although it started manufacturing its first vehicle in 2008.
Scaling EV platforms and projects is the key to profiting from the operation. Every legacy automaker is well aware of the fact that it takes time to make money, and even Farley, who currently runs Ford, has spoken about the fact that it may take Ford the better part of the decade to turn a profit on its EV business.
As EVs continue to become more affordable, they will also become more advanced and efficient, offering enough range and power to woo over some skeptics.
EVs will only get better and more advanced with time. Eventually, the people who are on the other side of the spectrum and could be called “early skeptics” will see a vehicle that may spark their interest.
This will eventually lead to more people making the ultimate switch and we will see EVs continue to be pumped out under new monikers that will attract new buyers every year.