And its CEO returned the compliment.
Elon Musk doesn't mince words. He speaks his mind, for better or worse. As the CEO of the world's most valuable automaker, Musk is in a position to do a seemingly endless number of things, among them pointing out rivals' faults. He also offers praise when it's due. Late last week, Musk wrote the following on Twitter: "Tesla & Ford are the only American carmakers not to have gone bankrupt out of 1000's of car startups. Prototypes are easy, production is hard & being cash flow positive is excruciating."
Some followers described these words as "arrogant" and that he has a "low self-esteem," but a certain other big name follower had a very different one-word response.
Ford CEO Jim Farley simply retweeted several hours later: "Respect."
And now, of course, there's a seemingly endless number of retweets and comments about this. Musk is referring to the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler (now part of Stellantis) during the Great Recession over a decade ago. Both automakers required US government bailouts to survive the fallout. Ford, meanwhile, realized months before it was in deep financial trouble and managed to secure private and government loans to avoid bankruptcy. The billions of dollars of US taxpayer money provided to Detroit's automakers remains a source of controversy to this day.
Although it has yet to commit itself to an all-electric vehicle future, as GM recently has done, Ford's drive into the world of electrification is already proving to be very successful, especially against Tesla.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E, the company's first-ever EV from the ground-up, is already stealing sales away from Tesla, such as the Model 3 and the newly updated Model S. In general, US electric car sales have increased by 34 percent year-on-year, according to a recent Morgan Stanley report. Tesla still dominates the EV segment as a whole with an impressive 69 percent market share.
However, that figure was at 81 percent a year ago. Musk's and Farley's communication on Twitter shows the pair can be competitive and respectful of each other at the same time.