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Ford Starts F-150 Lightning Production, Marking Another Significant Milestone for the Company

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【Summary】The electric future of Ford Motor Company will jumpstart today as the automaker fires up its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan to begin series production of their highly-anticipated F-150 Lighting electric pickup. Ford has a lot riding on the launch of the F-150 Lightning, as it's an electric version of the best selling pickup in America for over 40 consecutive years.

FutureCar Staff    Apr 26, 2022 11:00 AM PT
Ford Starts F-150 Lightning Production, Marking Another Significant Milestone for the Company
The Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup.

The electric future of Ford Motor Company will jumpstart today as the automaker fires up its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan to begin series production of their highly-anticipated F-150 Lighting electric pickup.

Ford has a lot riding on the launch of the F-150 Lightning, as its a fully electric version of the best selling pickup in America for over 40 consecutive years, which might help the automakers gain some ground on EV segment leader Tesla.

Ford is set to start regular manufacturing of its F-150 Lightning this afternoon. The automaker tripled its original planned annual production of the Lightning due to higher than expected demand for the battery-powered truck. 

Ford aims to build 150,000 Lightning trucks a year at the newly retooled Rouge manufacturing complex, which will only build electric vehicles. Ford is also building a second and much larger electric vehicle production facility in Tennessee.

Ford originally planned to build 40,000 Lightnings a year, but stronger than anticipated demand led the automaker to triple its planned production. Ford received roughly 200,000 preorders for the electric truck before its had to close the order banks in Dec 2021.

The new F-150 Lightning is already entering a segment that's growing, as Ford's rivals GM, Rivian and Ram come with electric versions of their own popular truck models. 

GM, for example, recently launched the new Hummer EV pickup and will soon launch a battery powered version of its popular Chevy Silverado pickup. There is also an electric version of the Dodge Ram in the works.

Ford is also facing growing competition from EV startup Rivian, which is currently delivering its R1T pickup to the first customers. Tesla also plans to launch its futuristic Cybertruck in 2023.

Ford is building two versions of the Lightning, a consumer version and a commercial version targeted at fleets called the Lightning Pro. The 2022 F-150 Lightning Pro is the first electric F-Series truck purpose-built for the commercial truck market. It will join Ford's electric E-Transit commercial van in the growing lineup of the automaker's new "work-ready" EVs.

"For both Ford and the American auto industry, F-150 Lightning represents a defining moment as we progress toward a zero-emissions, digitally connected future," Ford said when the electric Lightning was unveiled. "F-Series is America's best-selling truck for 44 years, the backbone of work across the country, and a trusted icon for generations of customers. Now we are revolutionizing it for a new generation."

Ford priced the Lightning Pro for commercial customers just below $40,000, with an MSRP of $39,974. For the sub $40,000 price, it will come with a standard range lithium-ion battery and a dual motor setup with 4-wheel-drive.

An extended range version of the Lightning Pro will also be available. Ford is targeting 563 horsepower and a targeted EPA-estimated range of 300 miles for this model. 

The more affordable Lighting Pro models are intended to help Ford's commercial customers make the switch to zero-emissions electric vehicles.

Ford also found recent success with the return of the rugged Ford Bronco and the new Maverick pickup. Both vehicles received high marks from consumers and both vehicles continue to sell well in the U.S. But the gas-powered F-150 pickup has been Ford's bread and butter for decades. So Ford has a lot riding on the launch and smooth deliveries of the first fully-electric versions of the truck.

In March, Ford announced that it's setting up a new division that focuses solely on electric vehicles called "Model e". The dedicated EV unit of Ford will not be a spinoff, dispelling rumors that the automaker would be spinning off its electric vehicle business entirely to better compete with Tesla, which is now the world's most valuable car company.

Ford said it will boost spending on electric vehicles to $50 billion through 2026 which is up from the previous $30 billion it committed. The plans include running Ford's EV business separate from its legacy combustion engine business and commercial business.

Ford's plans for its new unit Model e include accelerating the development of electric and connected vehicles, while leveraging its iconic nameplates to strengthen operating performance and take full advantage of the company's well established engineering and industrial capabilities, the company wrote in a press release.

The move is part of the automaker's "Ford+'' initiative announced in May 2021. Ford President and CEO Jim Farley called the plan the biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford scaled production of the Model T over 100 years ago. 

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