DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said it will have the ability to build up to 150,000 electric F-150s a year by mid-2023, nearly quadruple the capacity it had originally planned, as it scrambles to meet consumer demand even before shipping the first trucks to dealerships.
Ford has fielded 50,000 more reservations for the Lightning since September, when it announced plans to double production of the battery-powered truck at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich., to 80,000 by the second full year of production in 2024. The company seeks to become the second-largest producer of EVs behind Tesla within the next two years.
"With nearly 200,000 reservations, our teams are working hard and creatively to break production constraints in order to get more F-150 Lightning trucks into the hands of our customers," Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and International Markets Group, said in a statement. "The reality is clear: People are ready for an all-electric F-150, and Ford is pulling out all the stops to scale our operations and increase production capacity."
Ford says the nearly 200,000 reservation figure is just for retail orders and does not include anticipated fleet sales the automaker is targeting through its new Ford Pro commercial unit.
A spokesman declined to say how exactly Ford planned to boost production or whether the latest announcement would mean additional jobs or investment. Ford's September production boost was part of a $250 million investment and addition of 450 new jobs at plants in southeast Michigan.
Ford said it is working with the UAW and suppliers to find ways to increase capacity of EV parts at plants that support the Lightning.
"The pride and quality UAW members are putting into building the iconic Ford F-150 Lightning is evident in the high preproduction demand for the new F-150 Lightning electric vehicle," UAW Vice President Chuck Browning said in a statement. "UAW members are leading the way in doubling the amount of vehicles Ford is producing for this game-changing model of our legendary union-built vehicle."
Production of the Lightning is scheduled to start this spring. Ford said it will start inviting reservation holders to order their truck later this week. The company plans to work its way down the reservation list in waves. A spokesman declined to say how many customers would be part of the first wave.
CEO Jim Farley told Automotive News in November that he thinks more than 80 percent of Lightning reservation holders will go through with buying the truck, topping the roughly 65 percent reservation-to-sales conversion rate seen for the Bronco SUV.
Farley says 70 percent of Lightning reservation holders are new to Ford and to pickups.