Ford announced that it is reducing production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck as demand seemingly declines. The production changes are intended to match what the company says is reflected in customer demand.
Approximately 1,400 workers will be impacted as the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, where it builds the electric pickups, transitions to one shift effective April 1.
The company says 700 workers will transfer to Michigan Assembly Plant, while the others will be placed in roles at the Rouge Complex or other facilities in Southeast Michigan.
Ford says the other option is for the workers to take advantage of the Special Retirement Incentive Program agreed to in the 2023 Ford-UAW contract.
“We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability. Customers love the F-150 Lightning, America's best-selling EV pickup,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. “We see a bright future for electric vehicles for specific consumers, especially with our upcoming digitally advanced EVs and access to Tesla's charging network beginning this quarter."
Starting this quarter, all F-150 Lightning customers will have access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada. Commercial customers can also access Ford Pro charging solutions to keep their F-150 Lightning powered up whether they need to charge at home or onsite at work.
Ford was America’s No. 2 best-selling electric vehicle brand in 2023, and F-150 Lightning was America’s best-selling electric truck with sales up 55% in 2023 with additional growth forecast for 2024.
The 2023 MotorTrend Truck of the Year, most F-150 Lightning models are eligible for as much as $7,500 in potential Inflation Reduction Act consumer and commercial electric vehicle tax credits, on top of any discounts up to nearly $7,500 that Ford is offering to stimulate sales.
Per the company’s Q4 sales report, 2023 was a record year for its electric vehicles overall, including the Mustang Mach-E, Ford Transit, and the Lightning.
Records show the Lightning had its ups and downs, dipping 45% in Q3 but concluded the year with more than a 50% increase over 2022.
"In a year of challenges, from a labor strike to supply issues, our amazing lineup of gas, electric, and hybrid vehicles and our fantastic dealers delivered solid growth and momentum. We have the products that customers want," Furley said. “I am especially proud Ford remained the No. 2 EV brand in America and our next-gen, digitally advanced new EVs are on the way.”
Evidence the company was concerned with the sales numbers was shown earlier in 2023.
Prices on the F-150 Lightning models were reduced in August 2023, following a temporary shutdown at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan for upgrades in production capabilities.
According to Ford, not long after launching the F-150 Lightning, rising material costs, supply constraints, and other factors drove up the cost of electric vehicle production for manufacturers.
Subsequently, in October 2023, the company laid off approximately 700 workers at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to cut one of the three shifts at the plant.
At the time, the layoffs were announced as being temporary and caused by supply chain issues and challenges in working through the processing and delivery of vehicles held for quality check after production resumed.
The latest production cuts take the facility down to one shift.
Simultaneous to the announcement of the cuts relating to the F-150 Lightning, Ford also unveiled plans to create nearly 900 new positions as part of a third crew working on production of the Bronco SUVs and all-new Ranger and Ranger Raptor pickups on track to launch this year at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
According to the company, the facility will transition to producing vehicles seven days a week versus five with three crews working two shifts.
In total, the new 1,600-person crew will include 900 new hires and approximately 700 workers transferring from the Rouge Complex.