A left-hand drive engineering and evaluation version of the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup has been spied in Melbourne – but don’t hold your breath on it launching in Australia anytime soon.
Photos published on a Facebook group show this F-150 Lightning charging at a public charging site. The person who posted the photos claims the ute is owned by Ford.
“Ford’s Australian Product Development team work on a wide variety of global vehicle programs, including many left-hand drive only vehicles for overseas markets,” said a Ford Australia spokesperson.
“The F-150 Lightning spotted on Melbourne roads recently is in Australia for engineering evaluation, and is not an indicator of Lightning being developed for the Australian market. Lightning remains left-hand drive only, and unavailable for sale in Australia.
“Customer deliveries of Ford Australia locally re-manufactured right-hand drive F-150 ICE variants will start shortly.”
It’s worth noting the left-hand drive F-150 Lightning spied in Melbourne appears to be completely unrelated to the previously spied right-hand drive example that was converted by a third-party company.
In September this year, Ford Australia managing director Andrew Birkic said the company needs to “land the plane” on the recently launched and locally converted F-150 with the twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine before looking at introducing other variants in the range.
“Are we looking at [F-150 Lightning]? Yes,” said Mr Birkic.
“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.”
Ford Australia has previously said it’s also aware of the F-150 Hybrid, V8, and Raptor options, as well as larger F-Series pickups. It hasn’t ruled out bringing them Down Under.
Ford first revealed the F-150 Lightning in 2021, and it has been hugely in-demand in North America.
The Blue Oval was forced to close its order books in December 2021, before production had even started, and in 2022 announced plans to double its production output in an attempt to get cars to customers sooner.
Despite this, production of the F-150 Lightning has been paused a number of times, with the most recent beign due to a battery issue that was eventually tracked back to being a “rare occurrence” and not a design flaw.
Ford reported in the third quarter of this year sales for the F-150 Lightning fell 46 per cent year-on-year to 3503 examples. The Blue Oval has said, however, it expects sales for the flagship electric pickup to increase in the fourth quarter of this year.