Ford Motor Co. will add a second all-electric pickup, according to CEO Jim Farley, and produce it alongside the second-generation F-150 Lightning at the new BlueOval City manufacturing complex now being erected near Memphis, Tennessee.
The comments made this week by Farley also raise questions about whether Ford could assist Volkswagen in bringing an all-electric truck to market. The two automakers have a number of partnerships in the works, including conventional pickups — both the next-generation Ford Ranger and the Volkswagen Amarok. They’re also working on several EV products.
An electric version of the Amarok is a given, considering VW now has laid out plans to go 100% battery-electric during the coming decade. Scott Keogh, the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said this week that he sees an opportunity to sell an electric pickup in the U.S. The question is whether Ford could help make that happen.
Another battery-electric truck
“We’re already pushing dirt down in BlueOval City for another electric pickup that’s different than this one,” Farley said Tuesday during the official production launch of the new F-150 Lightning.
The truck is based off the conventionally powered F-150, with motors on both front and rear axles and a lithium-ion battery pack capable of delivering up to 320 miles per charge, depending on trim and other factors.
The response to the Lightning has far exceeded Ford’s initial expectations, Farley previously told TheDetroitBureau.com. There are now more than 200,000 advance orders and Ford is racing to meet that demand by rapidly ramping up production capacity at the Electric Vehicle Center it has set up alongside its conventional truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Looking further ahead, Ford plans to switch to a dedicated, skateboard-like platform for the second-generation Lightning. And it will be built at the new BlueOval City complex in Tennessee. At five square miles, it will be the largest Ford manufacturing complex ever. And during the announcement of the project last September, Farley told TheDetroitBureau.com that multiple products would eventually roll out of the factory. He now has confirmed that will include at least another pickup.
What that truck might be, Farley isn’t saying. It’s possible, some observers speculate, that it could be a version of the new Maverick. Ford already offers a hybrid version of the compact pickup. An all-electric version of the midsize Ford Ranger appears more likely, according to Stephanie Brinley, the principal auto analyst with IHS Markit.
And it would likely use a downsized version of the architecture being developed for Lightning, sources suggest.
The question is whether Ford might also share that platform with Volkswagen. The two automakers have what Brinley described as a “fluid and evolving” relationship that covers both conventional and battery-electric vehicles. Ford is developing several models based on VW’s MEB architecture — the platform underpinning products like the ID.4 SUV and dozens more Volkswagen Group EVs.
Separately, the newly launched VW Amarok pickup is based on the next-generation Ford Ranger platform.
If Ford is going to develop an electric Ranger, several sources suggested, it could fit VW’s plans to electrify the Amarok. While VW certainly could do an electric pickup of its own using the MEB architecture, there would be advantages to partnering with Ford and using a platform specifically designed for a truck, said one insider.
Right now, the Amarok is sold in Europe and other global markets. But VW has debated for some time whether to bring it into the States. It appears that Keogh sees a better opportunity to sell an electric pickup in the U.S. than one using conventional gas or diesel technology.
A growing segment
What’s clear is that the all-electric pickup segment will be getting crowded fast. General Motors already has launched the GMC Hummer EV and will follow with battery-powered versions of the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado.
“We will lead in EV pickups as well,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said this week — but both GM and Ford will face plenty of competition.
Ram is planning a 1500 EV. Rivian is now selling the R1T and Tesla continues work on the repeatedly delayed Cybertruck. Toyota and Nissan are working on battery trucks and Kia has announced plans for two of its own. New entrants, such as Atlis, also want to get in the game.
How VW could squeeze out a niche for itself is clearly something it has to explore. But by sharing development costs with a partner such as Ford, it could make for a better business case.