Ford abandons production of the Lightning F-150 electric truck


DEARBORN, Michigan, April 26 (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (FN) will begin regular manufacturing of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck on Tuesday, more than tripling projected annual production of the vehicle that now symbolizes the 118-year-old will of the old company to retool for a new century.

Ford will mark the “Job One” ceremony for the Lightning with a webcast scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. GMT). The event marks the massive ramp-up of the Lightning assembly system at Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford aims to build 150,000 Lightning trucks a year in the new part of its historic Rouge manufacturing complex, while it builds a much larger electric vehicle production complex in Tennessee.

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It had planned to build just 40,000 a year, but growing demand for electric vehicles prompted Ford to double production planned since last August of the Lightning, a heavily modified version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck. Read more

About 200,000 customers made reservations for the Lightning before Ford stopped taking preliminary orders in December.

The Lightning will arrive in showrooms behind startup Rivian’s electric R1T pickup (RIVN.O), but ahead of General Motors Co’s electric Silverado (GM.N), Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) has promised an electric Ram truck and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Cybertruck, which has been delayed until next year at the earliest. Read more

Competitors GM and Ford are pursuing different strategies in the electric pickup truck market. Ford redesigned its current F-150 to fit batteries, a front cargo trunk and enough electrical outlets to power a home or construction site. It took 19 months to build an assembly line adjacent to Rouge’s existing F-Series plant.

GM spent more time designing its electric Silverado from the wheels up, gutted a factory in Detroit to build it and several other electric vehicles, and built new factories to supply those vehicles with GM-designed batteries. The Silverado is expected to launch in fall 2023. read more

For Ford, it was essential to achieve its goal of starting regular production of the F-150 Lightning this spring. The company has faced late and poorly executed launches in the past, including the botched launch of a redesigned Explorer sport utility vehicle in 2019.

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Reporting by Joseph White in Detroit; Editing by David Gregorio

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