Ford takes on Tesla in race for electrified vehicle supremacy

Image by Ford Motor Company via YouTube

In what’s arguably the most anticipated EV release, Ford’s production for the electric F-150 Lightning is now underway. As the first units rolled off the assembly line, a celebration for both employees and customers allowed them to share in the momentous occasion. 

The “Job 1” event – referring to the first unit of a new model to roll off the line – was held at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, MI. Shared live on YouTube, the model’s entry into production is a critical step in Ford’s future. 

In a presentation that focused on Ford’s history and legacy, Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford spoke to several hundred attendees at the Rouge. He said, “This moment is every bit as important to this company and to this country as when the Model T first started rolling off the assembly line. Back then, we were the first company to bring automobiles to everybody. Now, we’re the first company to build electric trucks for everybody, way ahead of anyone else.”

While boasting of the F-150 Lightning’s benefits, Ford CEO Jim Farley poked fun at Tesla, saying that the F-150 could “charge other EVs, for your friends, that own Tesla’s.” 

In a news release earlier in the day, Bill Ford said, “Today we celebrate the Model T moment for the 21st Century at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. The Rouge is where Ford perfected the moving assembly line, making it a fitting backdrop as we make history again. The stunning anticipation for F-150 Lightning is a credit to the work of our Ford engineers and designers and the UAW team members who are building these trucks with pride.”

Reservations for the Ford F-150 Lightning opened on May 19th, quickly amassing almost 70,000 reservations within three days. In December, pre-orders halted when the number of reservations reached 200,000 units. 

“America’s real transition to electric vehicles starts now,” said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley. “F-150 Lightning is just the beginning of our ambitions for growth and leadership in digital, electric vehicles. We continue to expand our EV manufacturing footprint across the U.S., including the start of site preparation at BlueOval City, which will enable us to meet the ever-increasing customer demand for our exciting EV line-up.”

Forging an electrified future

Ford has been moving steadily toward an electrified fleet, investing heavily in infrastructure and vehicle production. The facility where the F-150 Lightning is produced, Rouge Electric Vehicle Complex, received a $700 million investment less than two years ago and has come online quickly, even by industry standards. 

The Ford Mustang Mach-E has successfully completed its first calendar year of sales, amassing more than 27,000 units sold in 2021 and essentially selling out through 2022. Ford’s E-Transit cargo vehicle launched in February 2022, catering to the Blue Oval’s commercial clientele.

In March, Ford CEO Jim Farley then announced that the carmaker would split operations into two separate units: Ford Blue for the legacy ICE-powered models and Ford Model E for their electric division.

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