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'Believe it:' Ford eyes EV market leadership with launch of F-150 Lightning

Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Already, Ford executives have repeatedly said the company is oversubscribed on its first wave of EVs. The automaker capped reservations on the Lightning after they got 200,000, and the 2022 model year is no longer available for retail orders. Model year 2023 order bank (for existing reservation holders) will open in the summer for deliveries in the fall.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford acknowledged that it's a bit of a dilemma, saying that he recently talked with would-be Bronco customers at an event in Texas who are still waiting for build dates for their vehicles.

"So it's really across a lot of our hot products, and we're doing everything we can to try and communicate with them," he said. "We probably need to do a better job of that."

But between the coronavirus pandemic, demand exceeding supply for raw materials needed for EV batteries, an ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage and other supply chain issues, production has been constrained.

"The good news is, there's tremendous demand for our products, but it is frustrating that we can't build them in a timely fashion. Our team has done a great job of breaking bottlenecks, but then new ones pop up," Bill Ford said. "That's just the world we're in, unfortunately. But we don't want to lose those customers. We don't them to walk away, and we're doing everything we can to accommodate them."

He also acknowledged that the company is "looking" at investing further down the supply chain to shore up the minerals needed to build batteries.

 

Production constraints aside, Ford executives on Tuesday struck an upbeat note about what an electric F-150 means for the future of not just the company, but the country as a whole.

"This moment is every bit as important to this company and to this country as when the Model T first started rolling off the assembly line," Bill Ford said. "Back then, we were the first company to bring automobiles to everybody. Now, we're the first company to build electric trucks for everybody — way ahead of anyone else."

Ford's F-Series truck lineup has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 45 years. And executives touted the Lightning as a work truck that's capable of everything it's gas-powered sibling is — and more. Farley highlighted benefits such as instant torque, an onboard generator, the "frunk" (or, front trunk) that offers 14.1 cubic feet of cargo volume, and over-the-air software updates — "like a smartphone that can tow 10,000 pounds."

The mainstream appeal of F-Series, as well as the enhancements promised by an electric version, are what have some sustainability advocates excited.

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