With about 200,000 advance reservations in hand, Ford said today it will double production of the new F-150 Lightning to 150,000 of the battery-electric pickups annually.
Production is set to begin this spring and the automaker is now opening up the order bank to let those who placed early reservations finally spec out their vehicles. It’s the second time Ford’s double the production number for the electric pickup.
The second-largest Detroit automaker wants to move fast, aiming to get a leg up on competitors like Chevrolet which will officially reveal its own battery-electric truck, the Silverado EV, during a virtual presentation for the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday. Ten or more BEV pickups could be on the market by mid-decade.
“With nearly 200,000 reservations, our teams are working hard and creatively to break production constraints to get more F-150 Lightning trucks into the hands of our customers,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of The Americas & International Markets Group. “The reality is clear: People are ready for an all-electric F-150 and Ford is pulling out all the stops to scale our operations and increase production capacity.”
Caught by a surprise
Initially, Ford will build the F-150 Lightning at a new plant in Dearborn, Michigan, a few miles from its headquarters. The facility could serve as the model for future BEV production operations, company officials have said, pointing to its new manufacturing processes. Among other things, Ford eliminated the traditional assembly line, instead moving partially completed pickups through the plant on automated guided vehicles, or AGVs.
Ford has been caught by surprise by the strong demand for Lightning, Farley told TheDetroitBureau.com in September. That was a factor behind his decision to authorize a large bump in spending plans to electrify the automaker’s line-up. The target now stands at $27 billion and, said Farley, very well could grow even higher.
Ford recently had to temporarily halt taking reservations for the Lightning “because we had so many,” Farley told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
Order bank set to open
Until now, customers have been able to hold a place in line by placing a $100 deposit. But Ford is ready to start translating those into actual orders.
“On Thursday, the first wave of reservation holders for F-150 Lightning will start converting their reservations to orders,” the company said in a statement. “Additional reservation holders will be invited in phases to place their order over the next few months. For those who don’t receive invites for the 2022 model year, there will be an opportunity to order for future model years.”
Separately, Ford will triple production of the Mustang Mach-E battery-electric SUV, with annual output at its plant in Mexico expected to reach 200,000 by 2023. Initially slow to bring long-range BEV models to market, Ford has experienced a strong growth spurt — though it still lags well behind Tesla, the global leader.
Ford is preparing a number of other BEVs, including versions of popular SUVs like the Explorer. The company also previously hinted it is working up an all-electric version of the recently revived Bronco. CEO Farley has noted on several occasions that Ford is initially emphasizing its “iconic” nameplates, hoping to repeat the success of the Mustang Mach-E.
Capacity set to keep growing
Within the next 24 months, the carmaker plans to have the capacity in place to assemble 600,000 BEVs annually and to become “the clear No. 2 electric vehicle maker in North America,” it said. That figure will grow even larger around mid-decade with the planned opening of Blue Oval City. That 6 square-mile manufacturing complex outside Memphis was announced last autumn and initially will produce the next-generation F-150 Lightning.
The complex will include a new battery plant, with two others to be built in Kentucky. In a conversation at the preview of the Blue Oval City project, Farley told TheDetroitBureau.com that the three battery plants alone will have the capacity to power up 1 million BEVs. And additional battery facilities will follow.
Currently, the Mach E is the country’s third best-selling battery-electric vehicle, behind the Tesla Models Y and 3. Tesla nearly doubled global deliveries in 2021, topping 960,000. It is expected to blow through the 1 million mark this year, in part due to the opening of new factories in Texas and Germany.
But the industry leader is facing a wave of new competition. In the U.S. alone, the number of long-range BEVs on the market will nearly quadruple, to more than 50, in 2022.
That will include a number of electric pickups. Along with the Ford Lightning, GMC has launched the new Hummer EV and Rivian is now distributing the first of its R1T models. Chevrolet, meanwhile, will debut the new Silverado EV on Wednesday at CES. Among others planning to follow will be GMC — with an electric Sierra pickup — Ram, Toyota, Bollinger, Nissan, Atlis and Tesla. But the latter marque’s Cybertruck has repeatedly been delayed and isn’t expected to make it into production until at least 2023.