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Ford Increases Lightning Investment By $250 Million; Plans 80K Electric Trucks Yearly

Ford has expanded its investment in the new electric pickup Lightning. It also has added more jobs to the mix.
Posted: September 19, 2021 - 4:23PM
Author: Marc Stern

Even before the first models roll off the production line, Ford is upping its investment by $250 million and adding direct jobs in the facility to manufacture the new Ford F-150 Lightning Electric Pickup.

Investment Would Be In Michigan

Ford said Friday that the increased investment would be at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, and Rawsonville Components Plant. The investment and added jobs will help increase capacity to 80,000 trucks a year.

"We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles. So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production," said Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Company. "This truck and the Ford-UAW workers who are assembling it in Michigan have a chance to make history and lead the electric vehicle movement in America."

The F-150 Lightning, with a starting MSRP of $40,000 and targeted EPA-estimated driving range of 300 miles with the extended-range battery, is aimed at the heart of the U.S. auto market. Ford has taken more than 150,000 reservations for the trucks to date.

"Electrifying the F-Series – America's best-selling truck for 44 years – and assembling it at this high-tech facility in Michigan – represents a significant step toward mass adoption of electric vehicles in America," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of The Americas and International Markets Group. The "F-150 Lightning is intended to be more than a no-compromise zero tailpipe-emissions truck. It's packed with ingenious features and technology that will improve over time, it's exhilarating to drive, and it can power your home and worksite."

Initial Investment $700 Million

The automaker confirmed it was building the Rough Electric Vehicle Center a year ago as an initial $700 million investment in its historic Ford Rouge Center. The investment has created a manufacturing home for the F-150 Lightning. Now Ford's pre-production F-150 Lightning trucks leave the factory for real-world testing, with the truck available for customers next spring.

The $250 million additional investment will create 450 additional hourly direct jobs, with most of those workers assembling the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Workers at the Rawsonville Components Plant will assemble the batteries, and Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center will increase its capacity to supply electric motors and electric transaxles for the F-150 Lightning.

Michigan has been the home to Ford since its founding in 1903. The new investment is Ford's latest in its continuing investment in Michigan. Ford has invested $7,7 billion in Michigan and has retained 7,000 jobs since 2016, including the Bronco and Ranger pickup manufacture. Also, the company has invested in refurbishing Michigan Central Station, developing a new Ford Research and Engineering Campus in Dearborn, creating Ford's Ion Park in Romulus, Mich., and more. These sites represent a growing network across southeast Michigan that will support the next generation of Ford's battery, electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles.

Friday's announcement about the automaker's added investment and jobs "is a great example of the right way to navigate the transition to tomorrow's vehicles by ensuring good-paying jobs of the future – investing in building vehicles in the United States, with the hard-working men and women of the UAW," said Laura Dickerson, UAW Region 1A Director.

Investments Pave Way To Future

"Investments like this can pave the way to a future that protects our families, our communities, and our middle class. Ford is doing this the right way with the F-150 Lightning – creating 450 additional UAW-represented jobs. As consumer demands shift, Ford is investing in this all-electric F-150 Lightning and hybrid and gas F-150 versions. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach."

Ford hosted government officials, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, to celebrate Ford's commitment to Michigan and assemble electric vehicles in Michigan as the first pre-production F-150 Lightning trucks start to leave the factory.

"We're standing on the edge of an era of electrification that will be built in factories like this one by hardworking UAW members and the innovative minds at Ford," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "I am proud of Ford for committing to invest $30 billion in electrification through 2025, including this additional $250 million today to create 450 jobs in Dearborn, Ypsilanti, and Sterling Heights supporting the production of the new F-150 Lightning. I will stay laser-focused at the state level on making investments in the future of mobility and electrification too, and together, we can create good-paying, high-skill union jobs and lead the world in electric vehicle development and manufacturing."

"Michigan is the heart of the auto industry, and we need to work across all sectors every single day to keep it that way," said Rep. Debbie Dingell. "Building the vehicles of the future here at home while maintaining good-paying, union jobs will help the United States lead on mobility technology and innovation and stay ahead of our global competitors. I've been working day in and day out in legislative markups and discussions to ensure strong support for domestic manufacturing and electric vehicle infrastructure. I'm thankful for Ford's partnership in this goal as we work together to protect jobs and keep the supply chain here in the United States while also combatting the climate crisis and strengthening our economy."

The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is in the Ford Rouge Center, setting the benchmark for sustainable automotive assembly. This new center supports Ford's vision of sustainable production as a zero-waste-to-landfill site.

Old Dearborn Plant Is Basis

The center uses natural lighting and LED lighting, and the primary forklift fleet will use hydrogen fuel cells with a zero-emission profile. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is built on the old Dearborn Assembly Plant site, using recycled foundation and construction materials.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.


DeanMcManis (not verified)    September 20, 2021 - 10:28AM

80K EVs sounds like a relatively big number, but fossil fuel powered F150s currently sell at a rate of 10X as much, usually selling between 800K and 1 million F150s a year in the U.S. And that anticipated production is in 2024. With Ford's current 150,000 preorders, it might be years before Ford meets the current demand. So it's good that they are ramping up their expectations for the Lightning demand and production, but they really need to scale up their production plans even more.