The Mounting Expansion of Ford’s F-150 Lightning Production Rate
Photo Source: Ford
When Ford first began developing the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, its volume ambitions were modest, reportedly as few as 25,000 per year. By the time Ford started construction on the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center assembly plant, that number had climbed to 40,000. Not long after the truck premiered in May 2021, the target annual production volume was increased again to 80,000, and by the beginning of 2022, it had been lifted to 150,000. That production run rate is expected to be accomplished by the end of 2023 courtesy of a newly inaugurated expansion of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.
The Assembly Plant’s Expansion Process
To reach 150,000 annual production capacity, the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center had floor space added at both ends of the building while production work carried on in the original assembly area. Once the expanded area and all of its necessary facilities, like ventilation, power, and water were finished, production was paused for six weeks starting in mid-June 2023. This permitted the production line to be retooled for the newly targeted capacity.
Production restarted on July 31st, 2023, with an additional 1,200 workers, bringing the total staff to 2,000. Even though the production rate will be slower than usual over the next several weeks while process issues are dealt with and new workers are trained, Debbie Manzano, director of manufacturing, Ford, expressed optimism for the company’s future: “We are all looking forward to getting these F-150 Lightning trucks into the hands of our customers – from the U.S. to Norway.” She further remarked, “This milestone is the result of a lot of hard work and collaboration.” As expected, the facility is now on track to triple its production capacity to a targeted annual run of 150,000 units by the fall of the 2023 model year.
The laborious process comes at a time when new rivals are beginning to arrive in the market. For example, General Motors is now producing the Chevrolet Silverado electric vehicle (EV) work truck with consumer trims beginning this fall (2023). There is also the backdrop of slowing electric vehicle sales to contend with. However, the Blue Oval has a plan to address this. The new pricing now has all but the Platinum trim below the price threshold to qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit.
In addition, the manufacturer is expanding availability of the XLT trim level after focusing on Lariat and Platinum trims for early consumers. As a matter of fact, Ford now expects over 50 percent of F-150 Lightning sales to be XLT. This suggests that the increased capacity also opens up the opportunity to broaden the number of trim levels offered across the lineup, addressing customer wants since reveal. Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer, Model e, claimed, “We have learned a lot from our first-ever EV truck customers, including a preference for technology and visual differentiation. We continue to refine the F-150 Lightning lineup to make the jump to an EV truck an easy choice for customers.”
Future of F-150 Lightning Production
There are various layout improvements at the plant designed to boost quality and bolster efficiency. With increased production, the Lightning Pro units are now available for retail buyers in limited quantities, while new and exciting trim levels are expected to be showcased in the near future. The Rouge EV Center will deliver more than 70,000 F-150 Lightning trucks this calendar year (2023). The plant now has equipment that automatically measures and validates exterior body fit for margin and flushness precision. This is the first time any of Ford’s North American production facilities have had this.
The Blue Oval is constantly pursuing innovation and improvement. That said, new customers are always welcome at NYE Ford, especially if they are expanding their horizons and giving electric vehicles a try. We are thrilled to help in any way we can to answer any pesky questions, so come on by and see what we have to offer.