Ford Motor has opened an important new front in the battle to dominate the fast-growing electric vehicle market by relying on one of the world’s top performing franchises.
In a lively presentation on Wednesday evening at a Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the automaker unveiled an electric version of its popular F-150 pickup called the Lightning. Ford’s F-Series trucks, including the F-150, are the top-selling line of vehicles in the U.S. and typically generate Revenue of around $ 42 billion a yearAccording to a study commissioned by Ford – or more than twice as much McDonald’s brought out last year.
It was one of the most anticipated introductions of a new car, and invited comparisons to Ford’s Model T, the car that made cars affordable to the masses. Ford has a lot to do with the success of the new vehicle. If it can make the F-150 Lightning a best seller, it could accelerate the move to electric vehicles, which scientists say is vital for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Car and truck exhaust pollution is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and one of the largest in the world. But if the Blitz doesn’t sell well, it could indicate that the transition to E.V. will be far slower than President Biden and other world leaders will need to meet the climate goals.
“The F-150 will put electric vehicles in a completely different area,” said Michael Ramsey, a Gartner analyst. “It’s huge for Ford, but also huge for the entire industry. If you’re looking to electrify the entire US fleet of vehicles, the electric F-150 is a huge step in that direction.”
The F-150 Lightning signals a shift in E.V. Push, which was previously geared towards niche markets. Tesla has grown rapidly for several years by selling flashy sports cars to the wealthy and early adopters. Nearly 500,000 cars were sold worldwide last year, just over half of the F-Series trucks sold by Ford. Other electric models that have sold well have been small cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf, which appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
In contrast, the F-150 Lightning is aimed at small businesses and corporate customers such as building contractors, as well as mining and construction companies, who buy a lot of rugged pickups. As a rule, these buyers are interested not only in the sticker price of a truck, but also in the cost of its operation and maintenance. Electric vehicles typically cost more to buy but less to own than traditional cars and trucks because they contain fewer parts and are cheaper per mile than gasoline or diesel to use electricity.
“There are many large fleets that have looked for green solutions but haven’t had the answers yet,” said William C. Ford Jr., company chairman and great-grandson of Henry Ford, in an interview.
The truck is expected to go on sale next spring. It starts at $ 39,974 for a model that can travel 230 miles on a full charge. A 300-mile range version starts at $ 59,974.
Ford’s managing director Jim Farley told CNBC on Thursday that the company had taken over Reservations for 20,000 Lightning Trucks in less than 12 hours after its Wednesday event.
With an electric motor mounted on each of its axles, the vehicle offers more torque – effectively faster acceleration – than any previous F-150 and can pull up to 10,000 pounds. According to Ford, the battery can power a home for about three days during an outage.
For contractors and other commercial truck users, the Lightning can power electric saws, tools, and lights, potentially replacing or reducing the need for generators in workplaces. It has up to 11 sockets.
“It’s made to be on the job site and work all day,” said Ted Cannis, general manager of Ford’s North American commercial vehicle business.
The base price of the truck is a few thousand dollars less than a Tesla Model 3 and even the company’s own Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle. The total cost is even lower as Ford electric vehicle buyers are still eligible for the $ 7,500 tax credit that came with the purchase of E.V.s. Some states, such as California, New Jersey, and New York, offer additional discounts up to $ 5,000.
Mr Cannis said Ford was able to keep the price of the electric model down by using the seats and other parts found in conventional F-Series trucks. Ford typically sells 900,000 of these vehicles per year, resulting in significant economies of scale.
General Motors and startups like Rivian are also working on electric pickups. Rivian has announced that starting this summer, with the delivery of its R1T truck and G.M. is expected to sell the GMC Hummer pickup later this year.
A big question about electric pickups is whether a lot of people will buy them. Commercial buyers aside, trucks like the F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram are typically bought by people who have a lot to haul or people – usually men – who enjoy driving trucks.
“There will likely be some initially raised eyebrows, but once we get people to experience the driving dynamics and the extra space, the skepticism will subside,” said Ford.
The F-Series trucks have been the top-selling range in the United States for 44 years. A 2020 study by the Boston Consulting Group found the truck supported 500,000 jobs at Ford, parts suppliers and dealerships.
Ford’s launch of the lightning bolt received a big push from Mr Biden, who visited the company’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center on Tuesday, which will be where the pickup will take place. Before a pool of White House reporters gathered at the plant, Mr Biden stopped behind the wheel of a prototype covered in black and white camouflage to hide the shape of the truck prior to Wednesday’s event.
“That sucker is fast,” said Mr. Biden, missing out on how the truck can zoom to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, a detail that wasn’t due to be released until Wednesday. Mr. Biden then zoomed out and reached a top speed of 80 m.p.h.
The Secret Service does not normally allow presidents to drive. Ford officials weren’t sure if Mr. Biden would drive the truck until it got to the Rouge Center, but it’s no surprise he did.
Mr. Biden is a well-known car enthusiast and owns a green 1967 Corvette that his father gave him as a wedding present. In 2016, he and his Corvette appeared in an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” in which he drove the car in a closed Secret Service training facility.
Ford’s plan to produce a unionized electric truck in the Midwest is closely tied to the Biden government’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing domestic production, supporting unions and accelerating the transition to electric vehicles. The batteries for the Lightning are made by SK Innovation, a South Korean company, in a factory in Commerce, Georgia. Ford announced this on Thursday and SK Innovation would do so form a joint ventureBlueOvalSK to manufacture battery cells and modules in the USA from the middle of this decade.
The government’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal includes money to build half a million charging stations and incentives to buy electric vehicles.
Ford has announced that it will spend $ 22 billion on electric vehicle development over five years through 2025.
Other automakers are moving in the same direction. G.M. spends a similar amount and has announced that it will only produce electric vehicles by 2035. This is to set a date for the phasing out of the internal combustion engine that has been driving the auto industry for more than a century.
G.M. An updated version of its electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt, was recently unveiled. There are also plans to make an electric version of its popular Silverado pickup, which is one of the F-150’s biggest competitors.