Ford Motor Begins Pre-production of the F-150 Lightning and is Boosting its Investment Due to Strong Demand

Ford Motor Begins Pre-production of the F-150 Lightning and is Boosting its Investment Due to Strong Demand

Author: Eric Walz   

The gas-powered F-150 pickup from Ford Motor Co has been the best selling pickup truck in the U.S. for over 40 years, so the fully electric version has the potential to be a big seller. Based on the number of reservations the automaker received for the upcoming F-150 Lightning, the company is boosting its investments and increasing production to meet demand.

On Thursday, Ford announced its investing an additional $250 million and adding 450 more jobs at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center and Rawsonville Components Plant, where the F-150 Lightning and its components are being built. 

Most of the 450 new jobs will be for assembling the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Workers at Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant will assemble the Lightning's batteries while the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center will increase its capacity to supply electric motors and electric transaxles for the F-150 Lightning, Ford announced.

The bigger investment will help increase production capacity of the F-150 Lightning to 80,000 trucks a year, as well as adding hundreds of new manufacturing jobs.

"We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles. So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production," said Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Company. "This truck and the Ford-UAW workers who are assembling it in Michigan have a chance to make history and lead the electric vehicle movement in America." 

Ford has received more than 150,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning to date, that's up another 20,000 from the 130,000 reservations Ford reported earlier this month.

The F-150 Lightning has a starting MSRP of $40,000 and targeted EPA-estimated driving range of 300 miles equipped with the optional extended range battery.

For the sub $40,000 price, the F-150 Lightning Pro will come with a dual motor setup and 4-wheel-drive. Ford is targeting 426 horsepower and 775 lb-ft. of torque. The standard range battery will deliver 230 miles of range, which Ford says is enough for a majority of its commercial customers that will use it for work.

Ford announced last year it would make the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich. its electric vehicle factory and home to F-150 Lightning production. Ford broke ground on the factory in Sept 2020. The factory is part of Ford's initial $700 million investment in the historic Ford Rouge Center.

The Rogue Electric Vehicle Center uses natural lighting, as well as LED lighting to reduce Ford's carbon footprint. Even the primary forklift fleet for the facility will use hydrogen fuel cells with a zero-emission profile, according to Ford. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is built on the site of the old Dearborn Assembly Plant.

"We're standing on the edge of an era of electrification that will be built in factories like this one by hardworking UAW members and the innovative minds at Ford," said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Ford also announced that the first pre-production F-150 Lightning trucks are now leaving the factory for real-world testing. The first batch of trucks will be available to reservations holders next spring.

"Electrifying the F-Series – America's best-selling truck for 44 years – and assembling it at this high-tech facility in Michigan – represents a significant step toward mass adoption of electric vehicles in America," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of The Americas and International Markets Group. 

Ford has invested $7.7 billion in the state of Michigan and created and retained 7,000 Michigan jobs since 2016, including the development and production of the new Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup.

With the growing number of reservations for the F-150 Lightning, customers that put their reservations in later might have to wait until 2024 for their pickups to be delivered. That's of course the F-150 Lightning isn't affected by any production issues, such as the global chip shortage that's impacting auto production around the world.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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