Ford's all-electric F-150 Lightning finally enters production
“America’s real transition to electric vehicles starts now.”
Jim Farley, Ford CEO
A year and a half after its first announcement, Ford’s first all-electric pickup truck is finally coming together. Production of the F-150 Lightning officially begins today at Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, bringing the classic American automaker’s second EV into the world.
The F-150 Lightning has garnered intense hype since pre-orders opened up last year, with so many orders being placed that Ford actually had to double production to even try meeting demand. Ford originally planned to produce just 40,000 units per year; that estimate has, by now, shot up to 150,000 units per year.
As of the beginning of this year, more than 200,000 Lightning pickups had already been reserved — so many that Ford actually had to shut down pre-orders entirely. The American public loves its pickup trucks.
Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford claimed today’s production as particularly historic. “Today we celebrate the Model T moment for the 21st Century at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center,” Ford said. “The Rouge is where Ford perfected the moving assembly line, making it a fitting backdrop as we make history again.”
The real transition starts now — Bill Ford’s assertion that the beginning of F-150 Lightning production is a “Model T moment” might be a bit premature. There are hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, yes, but no one knew how impactful Ford’s Model T would be until many years after its first production.
The sentiment does play into the Lightning’s extensive hype train, though, a strategy that could, indeed, help sell more all-electric pickup trucks. Ford CEO Jim Farley added a similar take, stating that “America’s real transition to electric vehicles starts now.”
While, again, this certainly reads like hyperbole, the F-150 Lightning does stand to make a significant splash in the EV pool. Pickup trucks are consistently amongst the best-selling gas-guzzlers in the U.S. — it stands to reason that the availability of such a classic name in an all-electric option would change some minds about EVs in general.
Even so, Tesla still owns about 75 percent of the EV market. It’s going to take a lot more than 200,000 sales to take down that kind of market share.
Can they deliver? — If anything is holding Ford back from actually turning this into a Model T moment, it’s production capabilities. Ford has already invested more than $1 billion in Michigan for the F-150 Lightning, adding 1,700 jobs in the process. Even with that investment, the production facility won’t be able to meet demand. Ford has been open about this fact.
For now, only those with pre-orders will receive their F-150 Lightning units this year (and maybe not all of them, either). Now the EV will face its biggest test yet: large-scale real-world consumer testing.