Ford again cut production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup on Friday but boosted manufacturing targets for the Ranger truck and Bronco SUV.
Although the automaker has yet to provide a new estimate for Lightning production, the pickup’s factory will drop down to one shift from two starting April 1. The 1,400 employees comprising the second shift will be transferred to other Ford facilities, including the company’s Michigan site that manufactures the Ranger and Bronco, or take part in a “Special Retirement Incentive Program” recently implemented as part of the brand’s newest United Auto Workers contract. Late in 2023, the brand slashed the battery-powered truck’s 2024 output target by 50%, following a year of slower-than-expected electric vehicle sales.
On the other hand, the Bronco and Ranger plant will open a third shift later this year, creating 900 jobs and allowing production of both models to increase. Ford says the increased workforce will allow the facility to operate seven days a week rather than its current five. Two new Ranger models are slated for release later this year.
In a press release, Ford CEO Jim Farley said the reduction at the Lightning plant would help the company better meet demand. “We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability…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.”
The F-150 Lightning was the best-selling electric pickup in 2023, quickly beating out Rivian’s R1T. EV sales have heavily increased in recent years, although the segment remains a niche. While Ford is one of several U.S. automakers dialing back eco-friendly ambitions, other brands, primarily imports such as Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai, have moved forward with aggressive electrification plans. Many brands are switching their focus from fully electric cars to hybrids, which currently are seeing a massive increase in sales. Ford has several hybrid options but has yet to announce whether it will also adjust production for these models.