Despite a 55% increase in sales in 2023 Ford noted that there is room to scale back based on customer demand.  -  Photo: Ford

Despite a 55% increase in sales in 2023 Ford noted that there is room to scale back based on customer demand.

Photo: Ford

Ford has announced it is scaling back production of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, a popular choice among public sector fleet managers electrifying their vehicles. The decision was made to "achieve the optimal balance of production, sales growth, and profitability," according to a news release from the automaker.

The announcement came as Ford detailed plans to create 900 new jobs and a third crew at Michigan Assembly Plant to increase production of its Bronco and Bronco Raptor SUVs, as well as the all-new Ranger and Ranger Raptor pickups.

"Matching Production to Customer Demand"

According to Ford, the F-150 Lightning is America’s best-selling electric truck with sales up 55% in 2023 — 74% in Q4 — and further growth forecast for 2024. Still, the automaker noted that there is room to scale back based on customer demand.

"We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability. Customers love the F-150 Lightning, America's best-selling EV pickup,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said. “We see a bright future for electric vehicles for specific consumers, especially with our upcoming digitally advanced EVs and access to Tesla's charging network beginning this quarter."

As recently as August 2023, Ford tripled production of the F-150 Lightning, Automotive Fleet reported.

Approximately 1,400 employees will be impacted as the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan transitions to one shift effective April 1.

Roughly 700 autoworkers will transfer to Michigan Assembly Plant and the others will be placed in roles at the Rouge Complex or other facilities in Southeast Michigan, or take advantage of the Special Retirement Incentive Program agreed to in the 2023 Ford-UAW contract.

As part of that contract, eligible production and skilled trade UAW members who retire in 2024 will receive a retirement incentive of $50,000, according to Detroit Free Press.

Ford noted that a few dozen employees could be impacted at component plants supporting F-150 Lightning production, depending on the number of employees who apply for the Special Retirement Incentive Program. Ford would provide placements for impacted employees within Southeast Michigan.

Ford recently expanded on its F-150 Lightning trims, debuting the tech-forward F-150 Lightning Flash. The 2024 F-150 Lightning lineup as a whole got an upgrade, with enhanced charging capabilities and reduced power consumption.

In early 2023, Ford briefly halted production of its F-150 Lightning after a recall was sent out for 18 trucks due to what the company called a possible battery cell defect, Government Fleet reported.

Slowed Demand for EVs

Ford's latest announcement is in line with recent moves by the automaker.

In November 2023, Ford announced it was cutting 800 jobs and slashing capacity by 40% at its BlueOval Battery Park Michigan. That came after the automaker's 2023 Q3 earnings report revealed its EV segment recorded an EBIT loss of $1.2 billion, according to Charged Fleet.

Despite the loss, in Q4, Ford sold nearly 26,000 EVs, up 24% over Q3 sales, according to a news release from the automaker.

Other OEMs have also cut back on EV production. Late last year, GM announced it was delaying production of EV trucks at its Orion plant until late 2025. The automaker abandoned its short-term goal of building 400,000 EVs through mid-2024, Automotive Fleet reported.

Meantime, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said on Jan. 19, 2024 that his company is still making a profit on its EVs and that it will continue to do so with its next-generation vehicles, CNBC reported. Tavares' comments came days after Stellantis debuted its ProMaster EV, the automaker's first available fully electrified vehicle.

Tavares said Stellantis will not cut back on its EV plans unless national election results demand a change in direction, Motor Trend reported.

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