A production stop for the electric Ford Lightning F-150 has been extended for at least another week.
Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan was shut down roughly two weeks ago following a battery fire in a Lightning pickup that had been parked in a holding lot. Two other vehicles were damaged by the blaze. No one was injured.
Ford originally planned to keep the plant closed until the end of last week but has now extended that closure on behalf of their battery production partner, SK. A statement issued from Ford on Wednesday reads:
“The teams worked quickly to identify the root cause of the issue. We agree with SK’s recommended changes in their equipment and processes for SK’s cell production lines. SK has started building battery cells again in Commerce, Georgia. It will take SK time to ensure they are back to building high-quality cells and to deliver them to the Lightning production line. Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center will suspend production through the end of this week, and we’ll continue to provide updates.”
The Ford F-150 Lightning is powered by a lithium-ion battery made in part with nickel and cobalt. Several OEMs, including Ford, have announced plans to switch to less volatile and less costly lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP).
Fire hazard testing from the Department of Transportation revealed “of all of the lithium-ion cells that were tested, LiFePO4 [also known as LFP] would be considered the safest cathode material because of the relatively low temperature rise and the resulting low likelihood for thermal runaway to propagate.”
Cummins, which has been developing all-electric powertrains, published on its website that LFP batteries “come with lower manufacturing costs and are easier to produce than other Li-Ion and lead-acid battery types.”
Ford plans on using LFP batteries to power Lightning and its other EVs in 2024.