Ford has resumed F-150 Lightning production after a retooling period. Following a six-week shutdown to expand and prep the plant for quicker turnarounds and higher output, the automaker has reopened its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. That should help Ford meet the demand for the popular EV after its recent $10,000 price drop spurred a sixfold spike in orders.
Starting this fall, the automaker says the Dearborn plant can produce the F-150 Lightning at an annualized rate of 150,000 units — triple its previous output. Although it will still fall well short of that number this year due to the shutdown and slower speeds pre-revamp (it estimates 70,000+ units for 2023), the company expects the production spike to make waiting times less of a headache. Ford recently adjusted expectations, bumping back its estimated date for reaching its goal of 600,000 total EVs produced to sometime in 2024 from its original 2023 target date.
Ford says the factory’s improved capacity will also help it to offer more popular trim levels like XLT. In addition, Lightning Pro units are now available through retail channels, and “new trim levels are set to join the lineup soon.”
Part of the plant’s output boost will come from new equipment. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center now has machines to “automatically measure and validate exterior body fit for margin and flushness precision,” a first for Ford’s North American plants. The factory also has an extra station to validate wheel alignment and headlamp aim for driver-assist tech. In addition, the plant now employs 1,200 new workers, a likely boon for productivity and the Detroit-area economy.
Ford says it’s also increasing output at its nearby Rawsonville Components Plant and Van Dyke (Mich.) Electric Powertrain Center. The automaker expects battery pack and EV power units to “match the scale of F-150 Lightning assembly at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.”