A Ford executive got into a Twitter spat with a Tesla investor over the weekend and accused the electric vehicle maker of selling ‘vapourware’.
Mike Levine, Ford’s product communications manager for North America, got into a heated exchange with investor Ross Gerber. A rivalry has been bubbling between ‘fans’ of the two firms since Ford launched the Mustang Mach-E, which is a direct rival for the Tesla Model Y.
The confrontation began when Gerber sent a tweet mentioning Levine that accused Ford of ‘ripping off EV customers’ by adding $5,000 mark up fees to the Mach-E. This is a common but frowned upon practice in American dealers, who often add ‘market adjustment’ fees to in-demand cars to make more profit.
Gerber wrote: “Dear Ford. It serves no value to try to compare the Mach e to a tesla. It is not and it’s not close. Also. It will serve you to not have your dealers ripping off EV customers with BS $5000 fees. You should return the money to the customers you ripped off.”
In response to the claim about mark ups, Levine told Gerber that Tesla should ‘return those $10K full-self driving deposits. Mach-E customers drive away with a car. Tesla customers drive off with vaporware’.
Vapourware is a term used to describe a product that is advertised to the public but is late, has little chance of making production or never gets officially cancelled. It was born in the software industry but is now used more generally for products including car. The tactic is often used as a way of keeping customers interested and to prevent them from switching to rival products.
Tesla’s ‘full self-driving’ (FSD) capabilities have caused some controversy in the car industry. The firm calls its adaptive cruise control system ‘Autopilot’, which its detractors say gives customers a disingenuous implication of its capabilities.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s owner and founder Elon Musk has long made public assertions about how FSD will soon be implemented. A recent rollout of beta software to a small number of customers has resulted in some disturbing footage of Teslas driving dangerously with it engaged.
Adding to his original tweet, Levine said any Ford customer that was being charged a mark up could contact him for help finding another dealer, signing off with: ‘Good luck reaching out to Tesla to get your FSD’.