Ford Motor Company announced some good news on Thursday, telling CNBC that they will soon begin production of the F 150 Lightning, the much-anticipated EV version of the company’s best-selling truck. Ford had stopped production following a battery issue that led to one of the vehicles catching fire.
“Ford Motor’s battery supplier says the defect that led to a fire in an electric F-150 Lightning and halted production earlier this month is not a fundamental flaw in the design of the power source.
SK On, the automotive battery unit of South Korea’s SK Innovation Co. Ltd, worked with Ford to identify the problem and is implementing a fix, the company said Monday in an emailed statement,” according to Fortune Magazine.
CNBC reports, “The fire occurred Feb. 4 in a holding lot during a pre-delivery quality check while the vehicle was charging. Ford suspended production of the vehicles and issued a stop-shipment to dealers. Ford declined to disclose details of the issue that caused the vehicle to catch fire or of the implemented solution. The company previously said engineers determined there was no evidence of a charging fault.
‘In the weeks ahead, we will continue to apply our learnings and work with SK On’s team to ensure we continue delivering high-quality battery packs – down to the battery cells. As REVC ramps up production, we will continue holding already-produced vehicles while we work through engineering and parts updates,’ Ford said in a statement to CNBC.
Ford last week announced SK had started building battery cells again at a plant in Georgia but said the automaker would extend downtime at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where the F-150 Lightning is built, through at least this week.
The F-150 Lightning is being closely watched by investors, as it’s the first mainstream electric pickup truck on the market and a major launch for Ford. The battery issue adds to ongoing “execution issues” detailed to investors last month by Ford CEO Jim Farley that crippled the automaker’s fourth-quarter earnings.
“The Lightning began rolling off assembly lines in April last year, as Ford hurried to establish a foothold in the growing market for EV trucks. The waitlist for the pickup hit 200,000 potential customers before Ford cut off reservations in late 2021, the company has said.
Ford has said it plans to increase Lightning output to an annualized rate of about 150,000 vehicles by late this year in an effort to chip away at the long waiting list. Ford sold 15,600 Lightnings last year, and another 3,600 through February of this year,” The Wall Street Journal wrote.
The electric F-150 plays a huge role in Ford’s future plans. “Ford CEO Jim Farley said the company plans to scale production of its electric F-150 Lightning pickup faster than its competitors, with plans to increase production of the Lightning at a plant in Dearborn, Michigan, to 150,000 units in the next year or so, up from an initial target of 40,000 vehicles,” CNBC reported last year.
“That would dwarf plans of Rivian Automotive and General Motors, which are expected to be in the tens of thousands. Both are already producing and selling pricier electric pickups in smaller and larger truck segments.
Other companies, specifically EV start-ups, have previously touted the electric pickup as a massive opportunity, but have so far failed to execute on a large scale.
‘In this market, being a first mover is a very, very important move,’ Farley told CNBC. ‘We didn’t know we’d be first, but we worked fast in case we were, and it’s worked out that way. I think it could be one of the most important advantages we have.’”
On Thursday, Ford also reported a 22 percent rise in U.S. vehicle sales for February from a year earlier. Truck sales increased sharply with the F-150 pickup, and its more-affordable small truck, the Maverick, leading the way.
The automaker delivered 157,606 vehicles in the United States in February, up from 146,356 delivered in January and an increase from 129,273 delivered in February of last year.