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The F-150 Lightning is finally shipping — is Ford ready?


The F-150 Lightning is finally shipping — is Ford ready?

The first Ford F-150 Lightnings are rolling off assembly lines and headed to customers today, after almost a year of anticipation. The company’s second EV after the successful Mustang Mach-E is in a category of one for the moment — the only full-size electric pickup truck available right now. (Rivian has sold around 2,000 of the well-reviewed R1T but it slots somewhere between the compact Toyota Tacoma and full-size trucks like the F-150.) Full-size competitors from GM, Ram, and Tesla are all forthcoming, but the Lightning will have the market to itself for at least a year, and Ford CEO Jim Farley intends to take full advantage of that lead to steal customers away from his competitors.

“We should send every one to a customer who’s never bought a Ford before,” Farley told me in a short interview last week. “My opinion is we should go for it.”

After he ships out all 200,000 preorders, of course. Demand for the Lightning has been so strong that Ford’s invested $950 million into factory expansion, added 750 jobs, and doubled production, but some preorder customers will still be waiting until 2023 to get their trucks, and Ford’s website says no more 2022 Lightnings are available.

The plant had built about 1800 Lightnings when we spoke, and Farley said that while Ford would be “on plan” with its capacity goals, he simply laughed and said “no” when asked if production would meet demand anytime soon. There simply aren’t enough batteries to build Ford’s goal of 150,000 Lightnings a year. But even then, Farley says he’s confident that the battery plant in Georgia Ford operates in partnership with SK Battery will be able to scale up. “I think we’re in good shape for batteries, and that seems to be the biggest gating issue to get to 150,000 units,” he says.

“I don’t see the chips as a constraint for Lightning”

As for the rest, well, the Lightning is heavily based on the existing F-150, so there’s a lot of existing manufacturing capacity. “The seats and the instrument panel, that’s something we’ve been building for two years now,” Farley reminds me. It’s true…

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