Ford Motor will suspend production of its F-150 Lightning until at least February 24 because the electric pickup truck has a battery problem.
This week, the Michigan automaker noticed a potential problem with the battery during a pre-shipment quality inspection and began investigating the cause. Ford said it is not aware of any battery issues affecting vehicles already on the road.
“We believe we have identified the root cause of this problem,” Ford spokeswoman Emma Berg told CBS MoneyWatch on Wednesday. “By the end of next week, we expect to complete our investigation and apply what we learn to the truck battery manufacturing process.”
The process “could take several weeks” to apply, Berg said.
“We will continue to keep the cars already in production while we work on engineering and technology updates,” she said.
Ford started selling its F-150 Lightning last year. The production pause threatens Ford’s plan to deliver 600,000 Lightning trucks in 2023.
Since their release last May, Ford sold 15,617 electric trucks, according to the company’s latest figures. Company sold 2,436 of them in October, the largest number sold in a month.
Rapid demand for electric cars
Ford is betting big on the F-150 Lightning, investing million dollars for a new plant for the already named car MotorTrend 2023 Truck of the Year.
When company officials first announced the truck in 2021, demand quickly took off as the pre-order list exceeded 100,000 within three weeks. Workers build a car at a new factory in Dearborn, Michigan.
Ford’s hiatus comes amid growing interest and demand for electric cars in the US survey of the AAA Automobile Club found that about a quarter of Americans say they want an electric car as their next car purchase. A study by Recurrent, an automotive industry analysis company, found interest in buying an electric car has grown by 70% since January last year.
Ford raised the price of the F-150 Lightning in October as it sought to offset rising production costs. Other automakers have also raised the price of their electric vehicle lines — including Rivian, GM and Tesla — against the background of the surge metal prices and higher costs for components such as lithiumwhich is used to make batteries.
Earlier this month, Ford reported a profit of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2022, down 89% from the same period last year. CEO Jim Farley said on an earnings call this month that he was disappointed with the 2022 results “because it could have been a much bigger year for us at Ford.”
Ford shares fell nearly 1% to about $12.80 a share on Wednesday, a second straight day of declines.