Ford’s F-150 Lightning factory in Dearborn, Michigan has been shut down since last week due to a fire caused by a battery issue.
The facility, which the automaker predicted would build 150,000 units in 2023, is Ford’s only Lightning factory. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, company representative Emma Bergg explained that a vehicle caught fire while awaiting a quality inspection, eventually causing another unit to ignite. Ford’s investigation has since discovered a battery issue it suspects to be the cause, and now expects to resume operations by Feb. 23, nearly three weeks after shutting down the factory. Bergg emphasized that owners of the electric pickup were likely not at risk, stating “…we have no reason to believe F-150 Lightnings already in customers hands are affected by this issue.”
The plant closure is the latest in a series of concerning revelations for the automaker, which recently reported a disappointing fourth quarter performance. Much like its gas-powered counterpart, the F-150 Lightning is the best selling electric pickup in the U.S., and represents the brand’s dreams of closing the gap between itself and the EV market’s current champion Tesla. Although Ford, as its spokespersons will remind you, places second in U.S. EV sales, the climb towards market dominance will be steep. Factory disruptions will make it even more difficult to achieve its goal.
This is not to say that Ford should be worried. The brand has lasted this long for a reason, and, according to its CEO Jim Farley, is keenly aware of its challenges. Although the plant closure is bad news for the aspirations it has in the EV space, the company still has plenty of time to get production back on track.
This article has been updated to reflect that the cause of the fire has been identified, and that Ford has provided a date for resuming operations.
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