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Ford F-150 Lightning electrical pickup may win first-mover benefit

A Ford F-150 Lightning on show on the New York Auto Present, April 13, 2022.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

DETROIT – Ford Motor is ready to be the primary automaker to convey a mainstream, full-size electrical pickup to the U.S. market, poised to capitalize on a first-mover benefit in what’s anticipated to be a hotly contested section within the years to come back.

Ford CEO Jim Farley mentioned the corporate plans to scale manufacturing of its electrical F-150 Lightning pickup quicker than its rivals, with plans to increase production of the Lightning at a plant in Dearborn, Michigan, to 150,000 items within the subsequent yr or so, up from an preliminary goal of 40,000 automobiles.

That may dwarf plans of Rivian Automotive and General Motors, that are anticipated to be within the tens of hundreds. Each are already producing and promoting pricier electrical pickups in smaller and bigger truck segments.

Different corporations, particularly EV start-ups, have beforehand touted the electrical pickup as an enormous alternative, however have up to now did not execute on a big scale.

“On this market, being a first-mover is a really, essential transfer,” Farley instructed CNBC. “We did not know we might be first, however we labored quick in case we have been, and it is labored out that approach. I feel it might be some of the vital benefits now we have.”

Ford is “assured” it may well hit its 150,000 manufacturing goal, in line with Farley. He mentioned the corporate has secured the lithium-ion batteries wanted for that stage of manufacturing – a serious concern of traders and Wall Street analysts. Ford additionally will prioritize provides of semiconductor chips, which have been a serious provide chain downside for greater than a yr, for the Lightning, Farley mentioned.

“We’re not joking. We predict that is as huge a product as when the Mannequin T got here out for us,” Farley mentioned, referring to Ford’s flagship product that’s credited with being the catalyst for mass adoption of automobiles from horse and buggies starting in 1908.

Delivery imminent

Some imagine the F-150 Lightning might be the primary true take a look at of whether or not Individuals are able to undertake electrical automobiles that are not Teslas. The pickup can be essential to Ford’s $42 billion truck franchise and retaining its decades-long gross sales dominance as America’s best-selling truck and automobile with its F-Collection pickups.

Ford has began preliminary pre-production of its electrical F-150 Lightning pickup truck at a brand new plant in Dearborn, Mich.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

Whereas Rivian’s R1T electric pickup was the primary to market final yr, it is a smaller automobile than the Lightning and priced beginning at $67,500. GM additionally began transport its GMC Hummer EV pickups on the finish of final yr, however they’re bigger than the F-150 Lightning and initially priced at about $110,000.

The F-150 Lightning starts at about $40,000 for a work-oriented model and $53,000 – solely hundreds of {dollars} over the typical worth paid for a brand new automobile – for a shopper pickup.

Ford has began saleable manufacturing of the F-150 Lightning. The automaker is anticipated to start transport the brand new electrical vans to sellers inside days.


First to obtain the F-150 Lightning will probably be choose business, or fleet, clients and the 200,000 reservation holders who’ve positioned $100 refundable deposits for the automobile because it was unveiled final Could. It may take Ford greater than a yr to satisfy these orders, in line with Farley.

That time-frame is longer than historic lead instances for such automobiles however remains to be anticipated to be ahead of different EVs. New orders for the Hummer EV aren’t anticipated to be fulfilled till 2024, and Rivian solely expects to produce 25,000 vehicles this year.

Ford has began preliminary pre-production of its electrical F-150 Lightning pickup truck at a brand new plant in Dearborn, Mich.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

Farley mentioned the corporate is sharing the F-150 inner combustion engine plant, which ought to assist it hit between 150,000 and 200,000 manufacturing items a yr.  

“We construct one million F-150s a yr. We all know how to do that. And now we have unbelievable scale,” he mentioned.

Ford’s recipe for profitability with the F-150 Lightning is certainly scale. The Lightning shares elements resembling seats, doorways and far of the automobile’s inside with its conventional gas-powered siblings to help with provider pricing and improvement.

It is a totally different technique than GM, Rivian and Tesla, which all have distinctive electrical truck platforms. And it is a technique that assisted Ford in getting the automobile to market.

The elements sharing can be anticipated to help with growing manufacturing, nevertheless it’s opened the corporate as much as criticism {that a} devoted EV platform is most popular. Ford ultimately expects to construct a devoted EV platform at a new plant in Tennessee.

In contrast to the Hummer and R1T, Ford is making it an enormous level to focus on fleet clients with the F-150 Lightning. About 20% to 30% of preliminary manufacturing will probably be for these clients, nonetheless Farley mentioned he believes the demand from corporations and work clients may ultimately surpass the buyer market.

Rising section

LMC Automotive expects the U.S. electrical pickup truck market to extend from about 25,000 automobiles this yr to 1 million or so by 2030. The 5 electrical pickup fashions accessible this yr is anticipated to leap to 21 over the subsequent decade.

The race to launch electrical pickups was largely sparked by Tesla and different EV start-ups eyeing the section, which the Detroit automakers have dominated for many years.

Ford’s F-Collection, which incorporates the F-150 pickup and its bigger siblings, has been America’s best-selling automobile for 40 straight years and the trade’s top-selling truck for the 45 years. Neither are titles Ford needs to relinquish in terms of electrical pickups.

“We’re not going to cede the longer term to anybody,” Farley instructed CNBC final yr. “Our electrical technique may be very particular. We will spend money on segments the place we are the dominant participant and now we have scale, just like the F-150, the Transit van, our Mustang.”

Ford has introduced plans to ramp manufacturing capabilities to 2 million EVs by 2026, because it seeks to change into the second-largest vendor of such automobiles, behind Tesla, by that point. Its crosstown rival, GM, has mentioned it plans to surpass Tesla in home EV gross sales by 2025.

Each automakers have plenty of catching as much as do in opposition to Tesla, which accounted for roughly three out of 4 electrical automobiles bought throughout the first quarter of this yr.  

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