Ford has begun manufacturing the F-150 Lightning pickup truck, a watershed moment for the company that will see if the never-ending demand for its successful F-Series trucks can extend to battery-electric cars. Reservations for the all-electric pickup vehicle indicate that Ford’s $1 billion investment in an electric version of the F-150 will pay off. According to Ford, the F-150 has 200,000 reservations, prompting the firm to raise its projected yearly output to 150,000 units in 2023.
The Ford F-150 Lightning was dubbed a “Model T” moment by Ford CEO Jim Farley, a reference to a disruptive and critical time in mass manufacturing that gave Americans unparalleled access to cars and even reshaped the physical landscape of the United States. “Not because it was attractive or sleek, but because it was smart, the Model T transformed the world.” Our customers discovered methods to use the Model T for things no one foresaw at the time, such as school buses and ambulances. “Some adventurous individuals removed the back to create the world’s first pickup trucks,” Farley wrote on LinkedIn Monday.
“I believe Ford is tapping into the same spirit of invention that propelled the early models my grandpa worked on with the F-150 Lightning.” The Lightning, like the Model T, isn’t a niche curiosity car, according to him. Instead, it will be as accessible and usable as the gas-powered models it currently offers. The F-150 Lightning is built in Ford’s Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. The EV truck components are built in other Ford plants in Michigan, including the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, which makes Lightning electric motors and electric transaxles, and the Rawsonville Components Plant, which makes batteries.
Following the release of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E and the E-Transit, a customizable all-electric cargo van aimed at business clients, Ford introduced the F-150 Lightning a year ago. The F-150, together with its commercial E-Transit business and the Mach-E, are the three most important components of its $22 billion electrification project. The F-150 Lightning might be the most difficult one yet. For decades, the Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in North America.
Ford will have to persuade both existing and potential F-Series consumers that an electric version of the F-150 would provide new levels of performance, torque, and towing capabilities without departing too far from the vehicle they’re used to. Ford will also face off against GM, which is launching its own Silverado EV pickup truck, as well as Rivian, a newcomer. For the time being, Ford is the only full-size electric truck available. The Silverado won’t be available until early 2023, while the Rivian R1T truck, which is already on the market, is in the midsized and higher price range.