Legacy automakers have long insisted that there was no consumer demand for EVs. This doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment, at least if one of the EVs in question is a pickup truck. Ford CEO Jim Farley recently told Automotive News that the demand for its new EVs has turned out to be two to three times what the company expected.
Ford has doubled its planned global EV production for the next two years to 600,000 units per year, and Farley says the company would increase it even more if it could. “Demand is two to three times what we expected, and so that capacity had to be doubled—probably tripled if we could, but we can’t. [For the Ford F-150 Lightning], when we first got together, we talked about volumes of 20,000 units a year. And I was like, no. So we capacitized something far north of 20,000, but it’s nowhere near the 160,000 units of demand we have today. Our reservations are approaching 200,000 units now, and we’re moving those reservations to actual orders.”
How many reservations will turn into firm orders? “I think it’s going to be north of 80 percent, but we don’t know,” says Farley. “The issue is that since we launched Lightning, full-size trucks have gotten a lot more expensive. That price that we launched at is looking more and more attractive, so when people look at moving from a reservation to an order, I think [the conversion rate is] going to be extremely high.”
Ford will start series production of the E-Transit commercial van this month, and the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is scheduled to start rolling off the line in spring 2022.
The current F-150 Lightning is based on the legacy F-150 pickup, and like all conversions, it includes some awkward compromises. Ford plans to introduce an all-new full-size pickup platform, which will be the basis of a next-generation pickup to be produced at the new Blue Oval City plant in Tennessee. Farley offered no details of the new platform, but did mention a target date of 2025.
“We’ve announced this new plant. It’s going to be a huge site, and it’s going to build a vehicle we do not have today off a brand-new platform—a full-size pickup platform. We think it’s going to be incredibly high volume. What I know for sure that we have to build more of? Battery plants.”