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Report Suggests Ford's Michigan Presence Plays Role In War With Tesla

The battle between Ford and Tesla in the hotly contested EV segment has picked up steam in recent years as the Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150 Lightning aim to beat the upstart firm at its own game. A new report suggests that Ford holds a distinct geographical edge over its rival.

The report in question focuses on the Mustang Mach-E CUV, which was designed to do battle with the Tesla Model Y EV. Ford has invested considerable effort and capital in the model, and it appears that the early success that the model has had in sales appears to coincide with certain regions of the United States.

Michigan Becomes Ford EV Stronghold

Lightning Charging Mustang Mach-E

One such area is Ford's home state of Michigan, with the Experian published report revealing that Ford registered 1,235 Mach-Es in Michigan during the first 10 months of 2021. While that meager figure may not sound like much when Michigan is viewed under the microscope, it translates into 21 percent of EV sales in the state. That's impressive considering that Michigan is a state that's been slower to EV vehicle adoption than other areas of the country (though progress has been made at changing that in recent years.)

However, on the other side of the coin, it's important to remember that the cradle of the American auto industry also has some baked-in advantages that strongly favor Ford. A prominent one is a law that keeps certain types of dealerships out of the state, with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signing the bill in 2014. The bill strengthened Michigan's prohibition of the direct manufacturer to consumer sales model and removed a loophole that some dealers in the state saw as a threat to the traditional independently owned franchise model.

That law has effectively kept Tesla out of Michigan, with the California firm unable to use its novel direct sales approach to consumers. A lone exception was a small gallery housed in Somerset Mall in Troy, Michigan. The gallery there operated like a display booth at a typical auto show, consumers and visitors were able to sit in Tesla models and talk with Tesla-trained spokespeople, but the tiny island of Tesla real-estate was unable to process formal sales (they referred interested customers to out of state dealerships to start the buying process.)

Tesla Still Sales Leader

Tesla Cybertruck landscape

While Michigan has become a potent enclave for Ford's EV sales, Tesla is still the overall leader in the market. The company is responsible for 69 percent of EV registrations in the entire U.S. In comparison, Ford is a mere 5.4 percent blip in the broader sales sphere. Tesla is also looking to expand that figure further as it prepares to launch the production version of the Cybertruck.

But Ford is far from out, and look for that initial 5.4 percent number to grow much higher once the F-150 Lightning pickup makes its way to dealerships. The Lightning is a pivotal model for Ford, and it aims to be one of the first entries in the young EV pickup sub-segment. While it was beaten to production by the GMC Hummer EV and the Rivian R1T Ford is hoping that the trucks baked in pricing advantage will help it snatch up sales in the long run though ambitious markups from some members of its dealer network might erase some of that when applied to real-world buying situations.

Photo Credit: Ford/Tesla

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. In addition to his specialization with Ford, he grew up in a General Motors household and is extensively familiar with their products too. Contact Carl on Twitter at @CarlMalek3, on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news to send news tips.