Ford stops production of the F-150 Lightning pickup due to battery problems

by Ana Lopez

Ford Motor Co. has discontinued production and shipment of its F-150 Lightning electric pick-up truck after a possible battery failure was discovered during pre-delivery control inspections.

News of the automaker’s suspension of deliveries of the electric vehicle (EV) version of its classic pickup truck was first announced Feb. 14 by Motor Authority.

“We are not aware of any incidents of this issue in the field,” Ford spokesman Emma Bergg said in an email to Reuters.

Bergg said the order to halt production was issued early last week and the company was investigating the battery issue.

Ford has yet to provide a timeline for a production restart and when it will lift the stop-ship order in transit.

Demand for Ford’s electric pickup is rising

The Lightning is the electric version of its popular F-150 pickup, one of Ford’s best-selling models in the United States. The production of the EV truck is an important part of the goal to go fully electric in the next ten years.

Demand for the EV truck has been strong from the start, with Ford receiving more than 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning after bookings opened in mid-2021.

The Detroit-based automaker has delivered 15,680 Lightnings so far after deliveries began in May 2022, according to Barron’s.

Ford’s goal is to have enough capacity to build two million electric cars a year by 2026, but battery issues need to be addressed.

Cause of F-150 Lightning battery failure remains unknown

“The team is diligently working on root cause analysis,” Bergg told CNBC, adding that they are “doing the right thing by our customers” and will address any potential issues before production and shipments resume.

It is not known whether the break was related to batteries purchased from suppliers, battery defects or a software problem related to battery management, which is common with all electric cars.

Bergg said Ford is not aware of any incidents or issues related to the potential battery issue.

No no-stop sales order has been issued for the Lightnings already on dealer lots, meaning dealers can continue to sell the EV trucks they have on hand. It is also unclear whether the recent stop build and stop ship order would affect delivery times for consumers waiting for their existing orders of the F-150 Lightnings.

However, as Ford is already struggling to scale production of the truck to meet consumer demand, the potential for even longer wait times is likely.

Ford posted disappointing results in the fourth quarter

Earlier this month, Ford reported poor fourth-quarter results and a $2 billion loss for 2022 due to uncertainty over semiconductor chip supply.

Ford CEO Jim Farley blamed systemic shortcomings around costs and systems that got in the way of his plan to transform the company. “We have deep-seated problems in our industrial system that are hard to eradicate,” Farley told investors on the February conference call.

Farley had plans to expand his EV business and establish lines for his old conventionally powered vehicles, vans and other commercial vehicles, but ongoing supply chain turmoil has stalled his vision.

The company will need to focus more on supply chain improvements and higher industry volumes, as well as lower raw material and logistics costs.

The Detroit automaker added a third work crew last December to boost Lightning production and capitalize on strong demand for the EV.

Meanwhile, Ford’s stock price extended its losses following news of the production halt, falling 1.6 percent by midday.

Ford shares are down 26 percent over the past 12 months, compared to losses of about 6 percent for the benchmark S&P 500 Index.

Bryan S. Jung is a New York City native and resident with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University

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