Ford is planning to double production of their upcoming F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, according to Reuters. The move comes in response to strong early demand, with Ford already racking up 120,000 customer reservations for the vehicle in advance of its spring 2022 release.
Ford’s new plan includes a ramp to 15,000 vehicles in 2022, 55,000 in 2023, and 80,000 in 2024. Ford will then target 160,000 vehicles in 2025 when the second-generation Lightning hits the road, which will be developed on Ford’s new electric-only TE1 platform (as opposed to the current Lightning which uses a modified F-150 platform). We do not yet know if they plan to continue increasing production after 2025 (but they’d better).
Ford will spend an additional $850 million in order to meet these new production goals. The company has announced plans to spend over $30 billion on electric vehicle initiatives by 2025.
Ford has already increased F-150 Lightning production before. Back in November, they announced a plan to add 350 more production jobs and increase production by 50% over previous plans. So now, Ford is planning to produce three times as many electric F-150s as the original plan.
When Ford unveiled the F-150 Lightning earlier this year, Electrek got a chance to see it in person and came away very impressed. We also sat down with Ford’s head of battery electric vehicle development who said Ford is not getting into electric pickup trucks to build just a few of them, and that the company is serious about going big into electric trucks.
But despite this second production increase, Ford’s electrification plan is still minuscule compared to the amount of gas-powered F-150s they are planning to sell in the same timeframe.
Ford sells almost 1 million F-series trucks per year. So in total, between this year and the end of 2024, this means Ford will sell about 140,000 electric F-150s (just 20,000 more than are already reserved) and nearly 4 million gas F-series trucks. Each of those gas F-series trucks will belch about 100 tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the course of their lifetime, along with many other pollutants that come out of a tailpipe.
This limited production plan could also result in high prices for early buyers. Ford dealerships have been adding big markups to early Mach Es already. For an F-150 Lightning with 120,000 early reservers already and only 15,000 vehicles being built in the first year, dealerships aren’t going to want to sell off a vehicle at MSRP if they have 10 more buyers eager to buy that same car.
We’ve been through this before – it’s common for companies to drag their feet on EVs for years while saying demand isn’t strong enough (Ford CEO Mark Fields questioned the “market realities” of EV demand back in 2016), then announce a compelling EV, and then be blown away by how high demand is for their announced vehicle.
While Ford is now rid of their “there’s no EV demand” CEO, they are now in the midst of the “wow, demand is stronger than we thought” step. The F-150 Lightning is one of the most compelling vehicles coming out soon, and has captured the imagination of a nation where the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle for decades. Everyone is talking about this truck and everyone wants it.
Ford – you have captured “Lightning in a bottle” with this truck, and now you need to make enough cars to capitalize on that.
We are generally happy with Ford’s action on electric vehicles, at least recently – they do seem to be one of the companies doing a better job of it than the competition. They’ve created an entire engineering department dedicated to EVs and their current and upcoming electric vehicles are quite exciting. They allied with California to reduce emissions while virtually all other automakers were calling for more emissions (though originally Ford led the push for that rollback).
So Ford is at least taking recent action, but this still isn’t enough. Only 6% of the trucks Ford makes in the next five years will be electric. The vast majority of Ford’s trucks will still belch pollution and contribute to the climate emergency that the world is currently suffering from, and every one of those trucks will continue polluting for years or even decades down the line.
These are problems we need to solve now, not later, and weak action like a few tens of thousands of vehicles is not nearly enough.
While we’re sure Ford was expecting positivity about this announcement – and they should get some, because doubling production is a big step – we have to do our normal thing and tell Ford that we still expect more than this.
Thankfully, though, given that Ford has already raised production so much and still has three years’ worth of reservations to fill, we suspect that these plans will continue to get bigger. Once the Lightning hits the road in earnest and gets great reviews as we expect it will, and fleet managers start seeing savings, big buyers will likely delay their gas F-150 purchases until they can get their hands on an electric one. Ford is going to have to work even faster to change production over to electric if they want to keep these customers. We think they’ll sell as many F-150 Lightnings as they can make for the foreseeable future.
And we’ll be ready to write the headline for your next announcement, Ford. Let’s go with 5x next time, okay?