Ford says it’s aiming to restart production of the F-150 Lightning on March 13th, several weeks after it put the EV on hold. It paused production and sent a stop-shipment order to dealers after a battery issue caused one of the trucks to catch fire in a holding lot on February 4th. It’s unclear what exactly led to the fire or how Ford has resolved the problem, though the company has said there's no indication a charging fault was to blame.
The automaker told CNBC that setting a March 13th target gives supplier SK On more time to ramp up battery production at its Georgia factory and deliver the packs to the F-150 Lightning plant in Michigan. "In the weeks ahead, we will continue to apply our learnings and work with SK On’s team to ensure we continue delivering high-quality battery packs – down to the battery cells," Ford said. "As REVC [Rouge Electric Vehicle Center] ramps up production, we will continue holding already-produced vehicles while we work through engineering and parts updates."
Since it initially started F-150 Lightning production last April, Ford has sold fewer than 20,000 of the EVs. Still, the F-150 Lightning is very much in demand. Ford initially capped reservations at 200,000 in 2021 before reopening them last August. The early popularity of the truck is hardly a surprise, though — the F-Series has been America’s best-selling vehicle for 41 years.
Ford had hoped to scale up F-150 Lightning production to 150,000 trucks per annum this year. Last year, the company said that new battery tech would help it hit a global production rate of 600,000 EVs per year by the end of 2023. However, it's unclear how much the downtime has affected those plans.