Over the years, Charged has reported on many EV initiatives from major automakers. These have always been announced with great fanfare, and promises of “commitment” to electrification, but after a couple of years and a couple thousand EV sales, most of these “new eras” have quietly faded away (Ford’s 2012 e-mobility effort was just one of several disappointments).
Will things be different this time around? There are good reasons to believe that they will. EV technology has advanced quickly, and Ford’s new generation of EVs is many times more impressive than its Focus EV and the Energi PHEVs ever were. The company has announced some serious investment in EV tech—and so have its competitors.
The announced specs of the upcoming F-150 Lightning are comparable to or better than those of Ford’s blockbuster gas-burning trucks, and the promised starting price is right—under $40,000 for a base version with 230 miles of range. As Electrek’s Fred Lambert sees it, “The EV community seems to agree that Ford could sell as many F-150 Lightning pickup trucks as they can produce.”
Electrek conducted an in-depth interview with Darren Palmer, Ford’s Head of Battery-Electric Vehicles, and the first question was about bringing the electric pickup to volume production.
Palmer wouldn’t share any specifics about planned production capacity, but he did tell us what we want to hear: “I think you can see we are not in this to build a couple of trucks. The facility that you saw President Biden visit this week, where the truck is going to be built, is significant.”
Adding weight to Palmer’s promise is the fact that Ford is systematically building the battery supply chain it will need to bring the F-150 Lightning into volume production. “We also need to get the batteries to do this,” he acknowledged.
A few days after Palmer’s interview, Ford announced several initiatives to secure battery supplies. Ford plans to design and manufacture its own batteries, drawing on expertise developed at a new “global center of battery excellence” called Ford Ion Park. Ford is working on a new generation of solid-state batteries based on technology from Solid Power, in which the automaker holds an equity stake. Ford has also formed a joint venture with SK Innovation to manufacture battery cells at two plants in the US.
Recognizing that many F-150 Lightning buyers will be new to the EV world, Ford is trying to keep things simple, and has been focusing on performance specs rather than technical details of the truck’s electric powertrain. Palmer told Electrek that Ford will release all the gory details, including battery pack capacities, ahead of production, which is scheduled to begin in mid-2022.