Ford to boost F-150 Lightning production capacity to 80,000 per year
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[September 17, 2021] By
(Reuters) -Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it would boost its F-150
Lightning production capacity to 80,000 per year due to strong demand
for the electric pickup truck, adding that the vehicle would go on sale
The U.S. automaker, at an event attended by Michigan's Democratic
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, said it would invest $250 million and add 450
hourly jobs across three of the state's facilities to lift the vehicle's
Ford's move, confirming a Reuters report last month, comes even as
Industry observers question whether individual buyers will give up their
gas-powered pickups for electric models.
The Lightning, which has over 150,000 reservations to date, is an
electric version of Ford's best-selling gas-powered F-150 truck, whose
popularity has made it the subject of some songs.
"The interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations,"
Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement.
Reuters had reported the automaker was targeting annual production of
more than 80,000 Lightning pickup trucks in 2024, up from its prior
target of more than 40,000.
Ford and other global automakers are racing to shift their
gasoline-powered lineups to all-electric power under pressure from
regions like Europe and China to cut vehicle emissions.
Ford's plan to lift capacity also comes as Congress is debating whether
to expand tax credits for electric vehicles, including offering an extra
$4,500 to EVs such as the Lightning that are made in the United States
with union labor.
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The chassis of a Ford pre-production all-electric F-150 Lightning
truck prototype is seen on an automated guided vehicle (AGV) at the
Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. September
16, 2021. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
TESTING NEW TECHNOLOGY
The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, which is assembling the electric pickups, is
a test bed for new manufacturing technology, said Christopher Skaggs, the
manager overseeing Ford's EV planning and implementation.
Instead of a fixed assembly line, Lightning bodies and frames ride on automated
platforms, enabling Ford to add or subtract platforms to change production
Robots flip truck frames upside down to allow for attachment of suspension
parts. Tools are attached to data systems that track whether bolts are attached
Production of prototype Lightning trucks currently occupy a portion of the
500,000 square foot electric vehicle assembly area. Ford has space to expand if
demand allows, though plant manager Corey Williams and other Ford officials
would not talk about plans beyond those announced on Thursday.
Michigan U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, whose district will get many of the
new jobs, was also present at the Dearborn factory event.
Shares of Ford were up 1% in afternoon trade.
(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru and Joseph White in Detroit;
Editing by Maju Samuel)
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