The Ford F-150 Lightning’s honeymoon period appears to be over, with the US car giant announcing it will cut production of the electric pickup down to just one shift a day – far from the heights of three daily shifts just a handful of months ago.
When Ford launched the F-150 Lightning in 2022 as a battery-powered twin to the petrol and diesel-powered F-150 pickup, the brand predicted production could eventually ramp up to 80,000 examples annually – later amending the figure to an ambitious 150,000.
However, in December last year – following a sharp decline in demand for the electric F-150 – Ford cut its 2024 production prediction to just 1600 examples per week, which would equate to approximately 83,000 annually.
To add insult to injury, Reuters reports Ford last week announced it will reduce the number of shifts producing the F-150 Lightning to one per day, down from the three shifts working around-the-clock to produce the electric pickup as recently as October 2023.
Ford claims the circa-1400 employees affected by the production cut will be moved around within the business, though not all will end up on production lines building other models.
Despite being the second electric pickup on sale in the US – launching a handful of months after the Rivian R1T, but well before the Tesla Cybertruck and the Chevrolet Silverado EV and Ram 1500 REV – the F-150 Lightning has failed to capitalise on the electric vehicle (EV) boom.
Last year, Ford sold 750,000 F-150s in the US, with the Lightning accounting for just 24,165 examples from the total tally – though it experienced a 55 per cent sales rise on 2022.
In a financial call last year, Ford told US reporters its EV division lost $US1.3 billion (AU$1.97 billion) between July and September, equating to a loss of almost $US36,000 ($AU54,600) per battery-powered car sold.
Ford is no closer to officially confirming plans for the F-150 Lightning to reach Australian showrooms, however a left-hand-drive engineering and evaluation vehicle was spotted in Melbourne last year.
“Are we looking at [F-150 Lightning]? Yes,” Ford Australia President and CEO Andrew Birkic said in September 2023.
“Is there a confirmed product program? Have I rang up [RMA Automotive] and said I need another line? No.
“So that will come in the fullness of time, in terms of not whether I say yes or no, but in terms of we need to do further analysis and we just need to prove that we can do the remanufacturing [and] we can do it with a lens on quality.
“So let’s just do that first and then we’ll have a yarn about Lightning.”
The roll-out of the right-hand-drive converted petrol-powered F-150 has hit two stumbling blocks so far, with a stop-sale being put in place for a turbocharger fault and a do-not-drive recall issued last week due to a steering rack fault.