Ford Halts Production of F-150 Lightning Electric Truck Over Battery Issue
Ford Motor has stopped production and shipments of its electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, while it looks into a potential problem with the vehicle’s battery pack.
“As part of our predelivery quality inspections, a vehicle displayed a potential battery issue and we are holding vehicles while we investigate,” the company said Tuesday in a statement. “We are not aware of any incidences of this issue in the field.”
The F-150 Lightning was introduced last year and is one of the most prominent vehicles Ford has added to its lineup in decades. The automaker has been hoping to ramp up production and establish a firm lead in electric pickups, which have the potential to become a large and lucrative segment of the E.V. market.
Faults in high-voltage automotive batteries can cause overheating and intense fires that can take hours to put out. For several months in 2021 and 2022, General Motors had to stop producing and shipping its Chevrolet Bolt electric compact after a manufacturing glitch was found to have caused a number of fires. G.M. corrected the problem, replaced the battery packs in all the Bolts it made from 2017 to 2021 and resumed production last year.
Tesla cars have also been involved in a number of fires caused by damaged or faulty batteries.
Ford is the largest producer of E.V.s in the United States after Tesla. In addition to the F-150 Lightning and the E-Transit, Ford makes an electric sport utility vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E. The Mach-E uses a different battery pack from the Lightning.
Ford has more than 200,000 reservations for Lightnings, but has been unable to increase production beyond about 2,000 to 2,400 a month. By the end of last year, it had sold slightly over 15,000. The truck is made in Dearborn, Mich., and its battery pack is made by a South Korean supplier, SK On, in Georgia and Hungary.
The battery issue has cropped up as Ford is trying to cut costs and return to profitability. It lost $2 billion in 2022.
On Monday, Ford said it planned to build a $3.5 billion battery plant in Michigan with technology and help from a key Chinese supplier, Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited, known as CATL, the world’s largest supplier of automotive batteries.
The plant will make so-called LFP batteries, which use lithium, iron and phosphate and are expected to be markedly less expensive than the batteries that Ford and most other automakers use now. SK On makes NMC batteries, which use the high-cost elements nickel, manganese and cobalt.
The plant will be in Marshall, about 100 miles west of Detroit, and Ford says it will employ 2,500 people when it opens in 2026.
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