Ford Halts Production of F-150 Lightning Pickup Due To Battery Problems

Ford Motor Co. halted the production and shipment of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup after it discovered a potential battery failure during pre-delivery check-up inspections.

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

“We are not aware of any incidences of this issue in the field,” Ford spokesperson Emma Bergg told Reuters in an email.

Bergg said the order to stop production was issued at the start of last week and that the company was investigating the battery issue.

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

Demand Rises for Ford’s Electric Pickup Truck

The Lightning is the electric version of its popular F-150 pickup, which is one of Ford’s top-selling models in the United States. Production of the EV truck is a major part of its goal to go full electric over the next decade.

Demand for the EV truck has been strong from the beginning, 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 commenced in May 2022, according to Barron’s.

Ford’s goal is to be have enough capacity in place to build two million EVs a year by 2026—but the battery issues would need to be addressed.

Cause of F-150 Lightning Battery Failure Remains Unknown

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

It is unknown if the pause had to do with batteries purchased from suppliers, battery pack defects, or a software issue regarding battery management, which is common on all EVs.

Bergg said that Ford is unaware of any incidents or issues associated with the potential battery issue.

A no-stop-sale order for the Lightnings already on dealer lots have not been issued, which means dealers can continue to sell the EV trucks they have on hand. It is also unclear if the recent stop build and stop ship order would affect the delivery timelines for consumers awaiting their existing orders of the F-150 Lightnings.

However, since Ford is already struggling to scale up production of the truck to keep up with consumer demand, the probability of even more extended wait times is likely.

Ford Had Disappointing Fourth-Quarter Results

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

Ford CEO Jim Farley blamed systemic shortcomings around costs and systems that put the brakes on his plan to transform the company. “We have deeply entrenched issues in our industrial system that have proven tough to root out,” Farley to investors on the February conference call.

Farley had plans to expand its EV business and set up lines for its legacy conventionally powered vehicles, vans, and other commercial vehicles, but persistent supply-chain turmoil has delayed his vision.

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

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

Meanwhile, Ford’s stock price extended its losses after news of the production halt, and was down 1.6 percent by the afternoon.

Shares of Ford have declined 26 percent in the past 12 months, compared with losses of around 6 percent for the benchmark S&P 500 Index.

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

Bryan Jung

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