What Is Happening? Why is Ford Cutting F-150 Lightning Production Plans In Half?

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I just wrote about Ford’s surging EV sales, particularly its F-150 Lightning sales, which were up 113% in November compared to November 2022 (4,393 sales vs. 2,062 sales). Unfortunately, it seems the celebrations were premature. While it seems like the F-150 Lightning should be kicking the normal F-150’s butt, demand has apparently not risen fast enough and Ford’s expectations for 2024 are not as bright as they once were.

First of all, it should be noted that Ford F-150 Lightning sales are still expected to be higher next year than this year. Sales in the first three quarters of this year have come to 12,260. The plan for F-150 Lightning production was 150,000 vehicles a year. There’s a big gap between 15,000 or so and 150,000 — the latter is 10 times more. Even if you multiplied that high November total by 12, you’re barely above 50,000 units. So, it’s natural — cut production until demand gets to the desired level, the level the production line was built for.

But the big question is — what’s going on? Why is demand far below what was hoped? For one, we’ve got the infamous issue of high interest rates. Maybe those will come down in 2024. Until they do, though, you can’t count on it. There’s also the issue of consumers being a bit stretched financially, and growing credit card debt eating into people’s finances. For many, it is just not a good time to go in on a huge purchase and new financing/debt line.

Aside from those broader economic issues, there’s the matter of the truck market and how competitive the Lightning is in that market. Apparently, not enough F-150 buyers are ready yet to go electric. Thousands a month are, but many more are not. Almost 50,000 non-electric F-Series trucks were sold in November (compared to those 4,393 Lightnings). And then there are all of those other truck brands (which haven’t even been selling electric trucks yet). Comparing to the electric startup OEM options, Rivian is doing well offering a bit of a more premium and quirky option, and then there’s the Cybertruck that has been looming in the shadows. Now that it’s finally out for real and we know pricing and range, perhaps it will loom less over the rest of the market. Or perhaps more people will wait for it? We don’t know. However, with the Cybertruck coming in much more expensive than originally announced (4 years ago in late 2019), and also with less range, those at Ford and fans of Ford can perhaps hold a little optimism that 2024 will be a brighter, more electrifying year for the Lightning.

I have to be honest and say that I expected demand for the F-150 Lightning to be much higher, even significantly higher than 150,000 units a year, and I wrote about that. So, I’m struggling to understand why the Lightning isn’t selling better against its fossil-powered siblings. Range limitations and upfront cost may be the biggest barriers — combined with everything above — but both of those things will improve in coming years. And, hey, some are just late bloomers.

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