- Ford is increasing production capacity for its upcoming F-150 Lightning pickup as it begins building prototypes of the electric vehicle.
- The Detroit automaker said it is investing an additional $250 million and adding 450 jobs across three Michigan facilities, including the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, which is building the truck.
- Production and reservations for the F-150 Lightning are being closely watched by investors and industry analysts as a barometer for consumer acceptance of electric vehicles, specifically pickups.
DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor is expanding hiring to increase production capacity for its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup as it begins building prototypes of the electric vehicle.
The Detroit automaker said Thursday that it plans to invest an additional $250 million and add 450 jobs across three Michigan facilities — including the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, which is building the truck — to double annual production capacity for the vehicle to 80,000 units. That's up from 40,000 vehicles a year ago.
Ford has now invested about $950 million in production of a hybrid version of the truck and the electric F-150, which is scheduled to go on sale next spring starting at about $40,000.
More than 150,000 reservations have been made for the vehicle since its debut in May, up from 120,000 at the end of July, according to Ford.
Production and reservations for the F-150 Lightning are being closely watched by investors and industry analysts as a barometer for consumer acceptance of electric vehicles, specifically pickups, which dominate sales in the U.S.
Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and international markets, said the company expects to hit the 80,000 annual production rate during the second year of production, in 2023. He said Ford has gradually been "pulling levers" to increase production capacity of the F-150 Lightning throughout its supply chain.
"The reservation number has been growing quite rapidly since we launched it," he told reporters Thursday at the Rouge plant, in Dearborn, Michigan. "That's why we're increasing capacity and building them as fast as we can."
Several automakers are expected to offer electric pickups in the coming years. Amazon- and Ford-backed start-up Rivian on Tuesday became the first automaker to enter what's expected to be a hotly contested segment.
General Motors is expected to get its EV pickup to market next, with the GMC Hummer EV rolling off assembly lines this fall. EV start-up Lordstown Motors and Ford are expected to follow next year, along with Tesla, which recently pushed back deliveries of its Cybertruck from this year to late 2022.
Preproduction models, or prototypes, are used by companies for testing and validation ahead of assembling vehicles that are used for certification before actual production for consumers.
Inside Ford's Rouge plant, the company is just beginning to build preproduction models. A limited number of the pickups have actually been produced at the plant, but officials said assembly will ramp up over time.
"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," Ford Chair Bill Ford said in a release.