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Ford chief shrugs off Tesla threat, says Henry Ford 'ultimate disruptor'

Ford has slashed production time from 52 minutes for the Model T to 53 seconds for the F-150.

Ford's chief executive is apparently confident his company can maintain its status as one of the biggest global automakers as the industry transitions to electric vehicles and autonomy.

Tesla has received most of the credit for catalyzing the current shift toward EVs, leading to criticism of established automakers for being late to the game after failing to see the opportunity that allowed a newcomer to thrive.

Speaking to CNN, Ford CEO Jim Hackett addressed such views by highlighting the Blue Oval's role in forming the entire automotive industry.

"I happen to compete with a rocket scientist who's really smart, and I respect that about him," he said. "And yeah, he's competing with the ultimate disruptor in Henry Ford."

The executive argues that Ford is "really good" at developing industrial models to streamline manufacturing, slashing the time it takes to build a vehicle from 52 minutes during the Model T era to just 53 seconds for the F-150, the best-selling nameplate in America for many years.

Hackett is obviously right about Ford's history and its current position as one of the top global automakers. Being a disruptor a century ago may not matter much in the modern era, however, and there are many examples of companies that established an industry and eventually succumbed to a later change despite maintaining dominance for years.

Ford has several electric vehicles in the pipeline, including an F-Series electric pickup to take on Tesla's upcoming F-150 rival. Hackett also suggests a fully autonomous vehicle could be ready as early as 2021.

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