Ford Lightning Getting Company in Tennessee

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.]

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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.

  • Master Baiter The D-bag elites like Al Gore demanding that we all switch to EVs are the type of people who don't actually drive. They get chauffeured around in black Yukon Denalis. Tesla does have a good charging network--maybe someday they will produce a car that doesn't suck.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird As a Challenger GT awd owner I lIke it’s heritage inspired styling a lot. There’s a lot of 66-67 as well as 68-70 Charger in there. It’s refreshing that it doesn’t look like a blob like Tesla, Volt/Bolt, Mach-e BMW I whatever etc. The fact that it’s a hatch makes it even better as a everyday driver thus eliminating the need for a CUV. If it’s well built and has a reliable track record I can see trading up to it in a few years.
  • Jbawden I thought sedans were dead? Coupes even more so. The core Charger/Challenger buyer is in it for the Hemi. To whom is this and the presumed EV Camaro marketed to? The ICE versions of these cars have a LOT of shortcomings, but rear drive, a V8, and a Tremec 6 speed made all that disappear. If you're forcing me into a 1,000hp appliance, then give me some visibility and practicality while your at it. And for the love of all things holy, please allow me to maintain a little dignity by leaving off the ridiculous space jam sound effects. What out of touch focus group think approved that? It's almost as embarrassing as the guy who signed off on the Pontiac Aztec.
  • Jalop1991 The simple fact is, America and Americans excel at building complex things (bridges, for example) but absolutely SUCK at maintaining them. We're too busy moving on to the next new shiny thing that a politician can get good airtime for. Fixing the bridge? Not sexy. Cutting the ribbon at a new EV charge site? Photo-op worthy. Demanding that the owner of said charging site be accountable and not let his site become the EV equivalent of a slum? Hard and not a newsworthy event.I have a PHEV and once tried some sort of public charging, just to see what happens. Failed miserably. We'd all be riding horses today if gas stations performed like EV charge stations do.
  • SCE to AUX Apps like PlugShare prove a few points:[list][*]Tesla's charging network is the best, almost always earning a 10/10.[/*][*]Dealer chargers are the worst, often blocked (ICE'd) or inaccessible behind a locked gate.[/*][*]Electrify America chargers aren't bad; my few experiences with them have been quite good. But they are also very new.[/*][*]Calling the help line is nearly useless.[/*][*]There are still charging gaps in high-travel flyover areas, which coincidentally have a lot of "Trump" flags waving in them.[/*][/list]As an EV driver and engineer, I don't understand how public chargers get so screwed up. They are simple devices. My home charger is 10 years old and has never missed a beat, but it only gets one cycle a day and lives indoors.