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Nov 02, 2023

Ford employees assemble the Ford F-150 Lightning March 2, 2022, at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich.

Ford Motor Co. this week resumed production of the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, where the electric truck is built, following a six-week shutdown during which the plant was expanded and retooled to support a boost in production capacity.

The automaker said production restarted Monday and that it remains on track to hit its targeted annual production rate of 150,000 Lightning units by the end of the third quarter, representing a tripling of capacity. The plant is expected to deliver approximately 70,000 Lightning units in 2023.

The six-week production shutdown involved expanding the plant in the Rouge complex, adding new equipment and bringing on board an additional 1,200 employees who are in training and who bring the facility's workforce up to 2,000 people. New additions aimed at improving quality include a system to automatically measure and validate the truck's exterior body fit, and a station to validate wheel alignment and headlamp aim for driver-assistance technology.

Units of the Lightning Pro, the base trim level geared toward fleet customers, are now available for retail customers in "limited quantities," according to a news release, even as Ford plans to add new trim levels to the Lightning lineup soon.

Amid signals that demand for electric vehicles is softening in the United States, Ford executives said Tuesday that a recent price reduction across the Lightning lineup has spurred an increase in web traffic and orders, but declined to comment on how many orders there are. Ford also is taking steps to boost the mix of Lightning XLT units, as that trim level represents more than 50% of new orders.

Executives acknowledged that the plant downtime has slowed deliveries this summer, but said they expect deliveries to ramp up in the fall.

To support the increase in Lightning production, production also is ramping up at Ford's Rawsonville Components Plants in Ypsilanti, which builds battery packs, and at the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center in Sterling Heights, which makes EV power units.

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