The next domino to fall in Ford’s evolving electric vehicle game plan? The slowdown in production plans for the F-150 Lightning EV pickup.
As recently as June of this year, Ford was targeting annual production of the F-150 Lightning at its Rouge EV plant in Dearborn, Mich., of 150,000 by the end of the year — which is the installed capacity of the plant — translating to 3,200 vehicles assembled per week. Ford has now told its F-150 Lightning suppliers that it is planning to slash that output to around 1,600 Lightnings assembled per week, or half the original goal, per a memo obtained by Automotive News.
When Yahoo Finance reached out to Ford for comment, the automaker said it was “matching production to customer demand.” Clearly, customer demand has fallen, as consumers balk at paying higher prices for EVs compared to gas-powered cars, as well as paying higher financing costs compared to only a couple of years ago. For instance the F-150 Lightning Pro starts at $49,995 (before tax credits), whereas a base XL SuperCrew F-150 gas-powered truck starts at $40,780.
That being said, Ford reported a record month for F-150 Lightning sales in November, selling nearly 4,400 trucks in the month — a 100% jump from a year ago. However, if Ford averages 5,000 Lightning trucks sold a month next year, that would mean only 60,000 trucks for the year — less than the halved production planned for 2024.
Competition is also heating up in the EV truck space, with Tesla’s Cybertruck beginning a handful of initial deliveries less than two weeks ago, Rivian selling more of its R1 EV adventure vehicles, and GM about to enter the fray next year with its Silverado EV pickups.
Ford had big plans for its EV transformation, as outlined in its Ford+ plan at its Capital Markets Day in May. Since then Ford said it will “push out” around $12 billion in EV investments, and was shrinking battery capacity at upcoming plants like one in Michigan that would use CATL technology. Ford is also delaying the start of production at two of the JV battery plants it is building in Kentucky.
Despite the effects of the UAW strike and higher labor costs — and the changing reality of the EV demand story — Ford is still targeting an 8% EBIT margin for its EV business by 2026, Ford CFO John Lawler recently said at the Barclays automotive and mobility conference in New York. For comparison, the automaker’s Ford Blue traditional gas-powered business is targeting a long-term EBIT of low double digits, with the Ford Pro commercial unit aiming for the mid-teens.
Ford is betting on continuous improvements on its current EVs, like the Lightning and Mustang Mach-E crossover, to make them less expensive with improved components and streamlined manufacturing processes. But the bigger bet is on its second-gen EVs, which the company is forecasting will help the company be more profitable.
“The main message is we had to design these second-generation products completely different than the first-gen products,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said to Yahoo Finance at its Capital Markets Day. Farley said second-gen products like its Project T3 pickup and three-row EV SUV will be coming in 2025 — with competitive pricing to boot.
“We are going to see pricing pressure, and if you have not put that in your business plan and you haven’t designed second-cycle products with discounting included in your run rate to get to an 8% margin in our case, then it’s not going to work out,” Farley said.
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.
Click here for the latest stock market news and in-depth analysis, including events that move stocks
Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance