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F-150 Lightning, image courtesy Ford.

Clean Transport

Ford Ends F-150 Lightning Reservations, Says It Needs More Batteries

Customers can begin converting their reservation for the Ford F-150 Lightning into orders starting in January.

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Isn’t it amazing? Just a short while ago, legacy automakers and their dealers where all whining about how, “Nobody wants electric cars!” Well, it turns out, people do want electric cars. It’s just that the companies didn’t want to make them and the dealers didn’t want to sell them.

When Ford announced the Mustang Mach-E, it originally planned on making maybe 30,000 of them — total. That’s why the scheduled production was at its factory in Mexico, where it could be assembled alongside convention Ford products. It was sort of a “Let’s run it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes” kind of deal. Much to Ford’s surprise, lots of people do want a Mustang Mach-E. Even the Michigan state police want one. And many more want an electric pickup truck too, it seems.

Surprise! Surprise! Reservations for the F-150 Lightning have far exceeded Ford’s wildest expectations, to the point where the company has decided to cap reservations at 200,000 — more than three times Ford’s planned annual production — and begin taking actual orders instead. According to The Verge, reservation holders will be able to configure their Lightnings starting in January, with the first trucks scheduled to ship in the spring.

At first, Ford said is would build 40,000 a year and ramp that up to 80,000 a year by 2024. Now 80,000 is the goal for 2023, according to Automotive News, and the company is busy hiring more workers and building a new factory where it will manufacture the second generation Lightning on a dedicated platform. The first generation truck is using a modified version of the frame used for the conventional F-150.

The entry level F-150 Lightning is aimed specifically at contractors and fleet operators. Starting at $39,900, it has 230 miles of range and a basic interior package with a 12-inch touchscreen that uses Ford’s Sync 4 technology. It isn’t fancy, but it is perfect for those who need a work truck, not a fashion statement. A version with a larger battery and 300 miles of range will cost nearly twice as much if the buyer ticks all the boxes on the option sheet. Towing capacities of between 7,000 and 10,000 pounds will be available.

We Need Batteries, Not Chips!

This week, Ford CEO Jim Farley told CNBC his company needs batteries for its electric vehicles more than it needs computer chips. “We’ll get the semiconductors. That’s a matter of prioritizing the (battery-electric vehicles) over the (internal combustion engine) vehicles,” Farley said during a webcast for the CNBC Investing Club with Jim Cramer. “The issue is batteries. That’s what we have to solve.”

Farley said his company is “completely oversubscribed with our battery electric vehicles,” specifically the F-150 Lightning. He told CNBC last week that Ford is doing “whatever it takes” to double production capacity for the electric F-150 pickup.

Ford is pushing forward with SK Innovation to build three new battery factories in the United States, but factories don’t spring up overnight. Until they come online in a few years, Ford will be scrambling for battery cells just like every legacy automaker who is late to the EV party.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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