As the all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck nears customer deliveries in spring, Ford Motor Company took the astonishing decision to roughly double production capacity to 150,000 vehicles per year in response to unexpected demand from “handraisers.”
Given the popularity of internal-combustion-engine versions of the F-150 over four decades, Ford may have been hesitant to put America’s best-selling model on an all-electric chassis at first. However, along with the strong market for its Ford Mustang Mach-E and CEO Jim Farley’s recent decision to invest heavily in the company’s own battery-making capacity, consumer response to the prospect of Lightning has helped Ford to the lead among traditional automakers adjusting their lineups for a battery-powered future.
Ford has received approximately 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, and the first group of reservation holders will be able to place their purchases on Thursday after getting an e-mail from the company.
In a news statement, Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s Americas & International Markets Group, said, “Our teams are working hard and creatively to break production bottlenecks in order to get more F-150 Lightning vehicles into the hands of our consumers.” “The fact is clear: people want an all-electric F-150, and Ford is going all out to scale our operations and boost production capacity.”
The F-150 Lightning is being built at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich., which is part of Henry Ford’s fabled River Rouge complex, not far from corporate headquarters, where he revolutionized the infant automobile industry with the industry’s most extensive vertically integrated manufacturing complex. Ford also produces the F-150 pickup truck there.
A recent tour of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center revealed that the actual manufacturing of the F-150 Lightning differs dramatically from that of conventional automobiles. Rather than cobbling together each vehicle as it snakes along a conveyor system as in traditional auto plants, workers assemble the payload box and other components on top of a mechanically simple battery array that underpins the rest of the vehicle as each prototype unit of the Lightning skates around the plant.
According to Ford, more than 75% of reservation holders for the F-150 Lightning are new to the brand. Deliveries will begin in the spring, with a suggested retail price of $39,974 before any tax benefits.