GM to Obama: Ford Is Not No. 1

ObamaThere’s no question President Obama gets fired up for campaign-style speeches. In fact, Obama is at his best when he is at his most enthusiastic, as he was during a speech Friday at a Ford (NYSE:F) stamping plant in Kansas City, Missouri. Swept up in praising Ford and its chief executive, Obama declared the automaker was No. 1 in the U.S., a claim that one could dispute with auto industry statistics, as a key rival did.

Ford made news for its Focus being the best selling vehicle of 2012, and certainly has the top selling vehicle in the country for 2013 with its F-Series pickup trucks. The automaker sold 71,115 of those trucks in August alone, which amounted to one about every 40 seconds. On that count, Obama was completely accurate in his praise of the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker.

“The new F-150 is built tougher than ever, more fuel efficient than ever. You’ve got trouble making them fast enough,” Obama told the roaring crowd. However, saying Ford was the top U.S. automaker is inaccurate, at least as far as sales are concerned. On that front, General Motors (NYSE:GM) is the reigning champion among U.S. automakers. Since the auto industry was focused on this speech, the reaction from General Motors’ camp was swift.

“We’re clearly No. 1 in sales volume, overall quality, and Consumer Reports No. 1 sedan and truck,” said GM spokesperson Greg Martin, according to The Detroit News. Martin went on to call the claim “nothing more than a rhetorical device” in comments to the newspaper. However, it could be argued Ford is the top U.S. automaker that didn’t need a bailout during the financial crisis.

Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally didn’t quibble with the President’s assessment in the slightest. Mulally emailed The Detroit News a brisk, exuberant response: “:)))))))) Go Further with Ford!!!”

Though the reply was perhaps more appropriate for a tweet, Mulally has been happy to accept the credit the public gives Ford for not accepting bailout money from the government during the financial crisis.

Ford stock has also grown more rapidly than GM’s in 2013. Ford is up 34 percent this year, while GM has posted gains of 28 percent.

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