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Elon Musk sets aside rivalries to praise one of Tesla’s competitors

Tesla has a history of making boastful statements about its cars. It famously referred to the Model 3 as the safest car on earth until the American government asked it to stop making misleading assertions. Company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, however, has now shown a surprising amount of humility by setting aside industry rivalries to congratulate a rival.

Posting on Twitter, his favorite social media platform, Musk praised the battery-electric Mustang Mach E (pictured) that Ford introduced during an event held on Sunday, November 17. The tweet came with an odd twist of irony, because Ford’s first dedicated electric model is aimed directly at the Model Y scheduled to enter production alongside the Model 3 in 2020.

“Congratulations on the Mach E! Sustainable/electric cars are the future! Excited to see this announcement from Ford, as it will encourage other carmakers to go electric, too,” the executive wrote. Seeing one of the automotive industry’s leaders acknowledge a product made by a rival — let alone congratulating the brand for making it — is highly unusual.

Neither model is in production yet, so it’s too early to tell who will win the sales race. Ford competing against the Model Y could take a toll on Tesla, but the Mach E falls in line with the company’s mission statement of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Both crossovers compete in a burgeoning segment that will become crowded during the 2020s. Volkswagen, Nissan, and Volvo sister company Polestar are on the long list of companies that want a slice of it.

The Mach E is a little bit more than a rival, however: it’s the car that killed sex. Rewind to 2014, when Tesla was a much smaller player in the global automotive industry. The company planned to expand its range (which, at the time, included only the Model S and the Model X) with an entry-level car called Model E. Ring a bell? Its three-car lineup would have consisted of the S, the E, and the X. The two companies amicably agreed Ford owned the name Model E in 2010, but Tesla tried re-registering the nameplate four years later. This time, the Blue Oval allegedly threatened to sue.

“And we’re like, ‘Ford’s killing SEX, that’s terrible.’ So, OK, fine, we won’t use the Model E,” Musk said at the time.

The company claimed Model E sounded too much like Model T, one of the car world’s greatest hits, so Tesla chose the name Model 3. In hindsight, we wouldn’t be surprised if executives knew the Mach E — which started out as a far less Mustang-like model — was on the drawing board, and wanted to avoid ending up with overlapping nameplates in a similar space.

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