Ford Motor will pause production of its F-150 Lightning until at least February 24 because the electric pickup has a battery problem.
The Michigan automaker discovered a potential battery problem during a pre-delivery quality inspection this week and has begun investigating the cause. Ford said there are no known battery issues affecting vehicles already on the road.
“We believe we’ve identified the root cause of this problem,” Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg told CBS MoneyWatch on Wednesday. “By the end of next week, we expect to complete our investigation and apply our findings to the truck’s battery production process.”
Applying this process “could take a few weeks,” Bergg said.
“We will continue to hold vehicles already in production while we work on technical and process updates,” she said.
Ford started selling its F-150 Lightning last year. The pause in production jeopardizes Ford’s plan to deliver 600,000 Lightning trucks in 2023.
Since their launch last May, Ford has sold 15,617 electric trucks, according to the latest company data available. The company sold 2,436 of these in October, the most ever sold in a month.
Increasing demand for electric vehicles
Ford is going big on the F-150 Lightning, investing millions of dollars in a new facility for a vehicle that already has the name MotorTrend Truck of the Year 2023.
When company officials first announced the truck in 2021, demand grew quickly when the pre-order list surpassed 100,000 in three weeks. Workers build the vehicle at a new plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Ford’s hiatus comes as interest and demand for electric vehicles continues to rise in the US. A poll by Motor Club AAA found that about a quarter of Americans say they want an electric vehicle next time they buy a car. Research from Recurrent, an automotive industry analytics firm, found that interest in buying an electric vehicle has increased by 70% since last January.
ford increased the price of the F-150 Lightning in October to offset rising manufacturing costs. Other automakers also increased the cost of their EV lines – including Rivian, GM and Tesla – in the midst of fluctuations metal prices and higher costs for components like lithium, which is used to make batteries.
Ford earlier this month reported profit of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2022, down about 89% from the prior-year period. CEO Jim Farley said in an earnings call this month that he was frustrated with 2022’s performance “because the year could have been so much more for us at Ford.”
Ford’s stock price fell nearly 1% to about $12.80 a share on Wednesday, the second day of declines.