Ford Lightning Getting Company in Tennessee

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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ford lightning getting company in tennessee

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has officially started production at the company’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan and will apparently be getting some company at the Blue Oval City campus in Tennessee. On Tuesday, CEO Jim Farley said that the upcoming plant had been selected to produce a new model during a press event covering the official launch of the all-electric F-Series.

“It’s another truck,” he explained. “This is not our only truck. We said very clearly we want to be the leader in electric pickup trucks.”

Having manufactured a couple thousand already, Ford has stopped taking orders for the Lightning after citing high demand. It’s more or less what happened with the “Mustang” Mach-E. But the company is planning to sell 600,000 electric vehicles globally over the next two years and needs to expand its production capabilities for electric models. That’s where Blue Oval City comes into play.

Presumed to open in 2025, the facility will be jointly operated by Ford Motor Co. and South Korea’s SK Innovation. The site is said to include assembly lines, as well as a battery production plant and battery recycling center — resulting in an estimated 5,800 employees. Until Tuesday, the Lightning was the only vehicle Ford had confirmed for production.

Due to the focus of the event being on Ford’s expansion of the River Rouge Complex and all-electric F-150, Farley provided no details about the new truck that’s being planned for Blue Oval City. However, a spokesperson from the company was able to confirm that the EV will not be based on the F-Series. They also referenced it as a next-generation vehicle — presumably indicating it’ll be a redesigned version of an existing product. Considering that the Maverick is brand new and unlikely to be overhauled within the next three years, that really only leaves the mid-sized Ranger unless they misspoke and meant it would be totally novel.

But it’s hard to imagine yet another pickup joining Ford’s ranks, even with the CEO’s admission that Ford wants to be the leader in electric pickup trucks. With the F-Series already offered in a cornucopia of flavors, and the company providing smaller alternatives with the Maverick and Ranger, we would be surprised to see a wholly new product developed outside those sizing boundaries. It seems much more plausible for Ford to take an existing vehicle and set up its successive generation with the option to be fitted with battery packs and electric motors.

We’ve also previously heard from Ford’s European and Australian management heads that an electrified version of the Ranger (PHEV and/or BEV) was already in development. The speculative launch for that was rumored to be early 2025, which coincides with the completion of Blue Oval City. Europe is also approaching the launch of stringent Euro 7 regulations that will introduce an emissions-based road tax that will gradually increase penalties for combustion-driven vehicles. With the Ranger being Ford’s best-selling pickup for the region, it would be almost unimaginable that it would leave it as a combustion-only model.

Though concerns remain regarding the industry’s ability to produce EVs at a healthy pace. Despite there being lower demand for all-electric products in general, global supply chains have remained an issue. China, which represents over 60 percent of the world’s chemical processing and refining of critical battery minerals, has restricted trade and reduced output during its most recent round of COVID lockdowns. And there are concerns that future international conflicts could hamper already limited Western supplies. Demand for battery production is also at an all-time high, further driving up material costs during an inflationary period.

“The good news is there’s tremendous demand for our products but it is frustrating that we can’t build them in a timely fashion,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford told reporters. “Our team has done a great job of breaking bottlenecks but then new ones pop up and that’s just the world we’re in, unfortunately. We don’t want to lose those customers; we don’t want them to walk away and we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Apr 27, 2022

    Electric PU's make a lot of sense for for the commercial/fleet market but I chuckle at the picture of the Lightening pulling an Airstream cross country. An EV PU will outshine an ICE powered PU in multiple scenarios but not that one. In fact that's where it shortcomings will really show. Ever pull an RV like that behind a PU? It's like dragging a billboard down the highway. A Lightening pulling a load like that probably won't go much further than a 150 miles before it is ready for a recharge. Good luck with that in a rural area. Can't get enough of the electric drive in the Volt(dead quiet, smooth effortless torque/power) but for my trucks/tow vehicles I'll stick w/gas. Battery tech has a LONG way to go before I'd consider anything electric.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 28, 2022

      I seriously considered going all-electric with our fleet while considering how to replace our old Sedona minivan. The Ioniq 5 was a candidate at the top of my price range, for instance, although I still haven't even seen one. But I couldn't justify the mix of price, 50% range reduction, and actual towing capacity available today in the EV market, not to mention the inventory shortage issues. So we ended up with a Santa Fe Limited, which combines semi-decent fuel economy and sufficient 3500-lb towing capacity in a nice package. Maybe next time.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 27, 2022

    How about an EV Maverick. Maverick is small enough and lighter that it would be a good inexpensive pickup for fleets and for those who want an inexpensive all purpose commuter vehicle that can be used for runs to Home Depot. Price it between 25k and 30k and lower the range to keep it affordable. Not all EVs need to be large there is a demand for a smaller less expensive EV that is more practical. Not everyone can afford a Cybertruck or even a Lightning nor do they need those.

    • See 2 previous
    • JMII JMII on Apr 29, 2022

      Maverick 2.0 recipe: take Mach-E remove SUV part, add bed - done.

  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
  • Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.