Ford's most important vehicle is the F-150 pickup. The F-150 is perenially and by far America's best-selling car; indeed, it may be America's most important product outside of the iPhone, generating, according to one study, more revenue than America's four major sports combined. And in what Ford is terming a "Model T moment for the 21st Century" — and amazingly, that may not be an overstatement — the F-150 has officially gone electric.
Ford unveiled the F-150 Lightning last year (and gave us a ride in it). And the truck — which starts under $40,000, accelerates from 0-60 mph in a little over four seconds and can power a home for days — has now officially entered production at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.
The magnitude of the moment can be measured by the reaction of Ford's electric truck competitors. Ram tried to "steal the thunder" yesterday, announcing it would unveil the brand's first electric truck in fall 2022. Chevy, coincidentally, dropped a teaser video for the new Silverado EV this morning. And Rivian — part-owned by Ford — published a teaser video for its forthcoming Sand mode.
When will you be able to buy an F-150 Lightning if you don't already hold a reservation? It's not clear. But our best bet would be, not for a long while. Ford plans to ramp up production capacity to 2 million EVs per year by 2026, but they are a long way from that target now.
After all, Ford dramatically underestimated the initial demand for the F-150 Lightning. Ford expected to build around 40,000 F-150 Lightning trucks per year. They shut down new reservations after receiving more than 200,000 — three out of four from buyers new to the Ford brand. And Ford is anticipating that 80% of those reservations will convert to orders.
Ford has announced plans to double the F-150 Lightning production capacity twice since the initial launch to meet demand, with a new target of 150,000 trucks per year. But production capacity is not there yet. And even if Ford could produce those trucks, they would have to find chips for vehicles that weren't allotted for during a significant shortage. Ford has reportedly closed the order books for reservation holders for 2022, which will push the remaining ones into the 2023 model year.
A few F-150 Lightning trucks may trickle out to dealer lots, and we would bet a few get flipped on sites like Bring a Trailer. However, either scenario would likely involve a substantial markup over the price point that makes the F-150 Lightning such a value proposition.