Ford News Roundup: Customer Uses F-150 Lightning To Power Scooter Business, BlueOval City Isn’t Dead

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In today’s news from Ford, there were two cool stories. The first one we’ll share is about an F-150 Lightning owner who uses it to power (literally) his scooter rental business. After that, we’ll share some updates the company gave us from the construction of the BlueOval battery production facility.

Using an EV to Charge Up Smaller EVs

Max Rastelli runs HFX e-Scooters in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a business he started in 2019 after years of owning Ford vehicles. He obviously loved clean transportation like we do, but he needed a truck to make a living. So, in 2021, he placed a deposit for the electric Ford F-150 Lightning and took delivery the following October.

Now, Rastelli is showing his fellow Halifaxians how it’s done, with a business that’s powered by clean electric power from beginning to end. Not only that, but the truck’s capabilities are helping him get ahead while spending more time with the family.

“It became immediately clear to me that the F-150 Lightning could boost my business productivity as a mobile battery charging station through the use of Pro Power Onboard,” he said. “Thanks in part to these trucks, I’ve been able to double the number of e-Scooters on my fleet, with near-zero downtime related to charging, making my business twice as efficient. And it doesn’t hurt that this truck is a lot of fun to drive, with its low center of gravity and smooth ride.”

When Rastelli first started the business, he would put whole scooters in the back of his truck to carry to a central charging hub in the city. This meant that he spent a lot of time driving scooters back and forth, and with that a LOT of downtime stuck sitting and waiting for small batteries to charge. Moving to swappable batteries helped this situation some, but he still had to charge them daily at the hub, making for a big waste of time.

This is where the F-150 Lighting really pulled its own weight. Using the onboard 120v plugs, Rastelli could charge multiple batteries simultaneously, and do it on the move while driving to pick up and drop off scooters. This eliminated the need for a central hub, improved efficiency, and reduced e-Scooter downtime. The increased productivity was so significant that Rastelli purchased a second truck in June 2023 to improve the efficiency of his scooter fleet even more!

BlueOval City Construction Update

Last year, we shared the story of Ford’s new BlueOval City EV and battery production facility. It’s a state-of-the art auto production complex that happens to be the largest one in the company’s 119 years in business. Ford knows that building enough EVs is a “go big or go home” moment in history, so Ford knew the company had to build a historic factory complex to support the effort.

We also learned that the company planned to build its next-generation electric truck, built from the ground up to be an EV instead of adapting the body-on-frame construction of the F-150 to hold batteries. So, the facility is not only the future of Ford’s EV business, but the future of the whole thing, as Ford’s trucks are the company’s bread and butter.

But, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since last year. Economic headwinds, slowing growth in demand for EVs (not to be confused with reduced demand), and a need to focus on more affordable EVs has made things a lot tougher for manufacturers pushing an EV effort. Everyone, including Tesla, have had to make adjustments. GM and Ford have both had to cut back on production and/or delay plans, with Ford cutting back on the number of shift building Lightnings.

So, it seems obvious that plans may have to change in BlueOval City, but Ford recently announced in a short and sweet press release that the company is going to press ahead with the plan.

“We are pleased to confirm we are moving ahead with the Marshall project, consistent with the Ford+ plan for growth and value creation,” the company said. “However, we are right-sizing as we balance investment, growth, and profitability. The facility will now create more than 1,700 good-paying American jobs to produce a planned capacity of approximately 20 GWh. We still expect BlueOval Battery Park Michigan to be the first of Ford’s battery plants of this kind when it begins producing LFP battery cells starting in 2026.”

But, the company didn’t compare prior plans in this press release. The original plan was to create more than 6,000 jobs, and now that number is down by more than two thirds. So, while BlueOval City is still happening, it’s going to be more of a “BlueOvalton” or “BlueOval Village,” at least for the next few years.

Not Necessarily A Bad Sign

Before I close this article, I do want to comment a bit about what it means and doesn’t mean.

The “glass half empty” approach to this news is to make it all about the reduction. But, to do that, we have to stand in the 2026 we were looking forward to and look backward. From the ideal version of 2026, a 2/3 reduction is catastrophic. But, we aren’t in 2026. We’re in 2023 (last I checked), and there’s really no BlueOval City at all yet.

So, instead of looking at this like a reduction, it should be viewed as slower growth. But, slower growth is still growth, and we’re still seeing future plans for EV production growth. Things ARE getting better, just not as quickly as we had hoped.

I don’t mean to engage in toxic positivity, though. This does show that moving transportation from ICE to EVs is going to be a lot tougher than we thought. It’s still happening, but this isn’t any time for us to be cutting back on working toward that goal. So, whether you’re in the industry, you’re an activist, you’re in this for the political angles, or you’re an investor, it’s still time to keep putting the hard work in to keep things from slowing down even more.

So, if anything, this is a sign that we need to push harder instead of assuming the worst.

Featured image provided by Ford.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1886 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba