Update: ‘Ford’s EV strategy’ updated with ‘Business trifurcation’ section.
Even before the first-ever electric F-150 can reach customers, news about the second generation Ford F-150 Lightning has started trickling in. According to an update from Reuters, Ford is targeting annual production of 160,000 units of the 2025 Ford F-150 Lightning, which the report adds will launch in late-2025.
F-150 Lightning Supply & Demand
Ford has received nearly 200,000 reservations for the current F-150 Lightning, and this number does not include fleet/commercial sales through the Ford Pro program. On January 4, 2022, Ford said that it plans to nearly double F-150 Lightning’s annual production to 150,000 units.
Prior to Ford’s announcement on January 4, 2022, reports said that Ford planned to build 15,000 F-150 Lightnings in 2022, 55,000 in 2023, and 80,000 in 2024, after which the Blue Oval plans on shifting to its electric-only TE1 platform, the basis for the 2025 Ford F-150 Lightning. Given the massive demand, Ford should be looking to produce more F-150 electric trucks, but ramp-up would be difficult for at least a year given the shortage of semiconductor chips.
Theoretically, as things stand, there are prospective buyers, who, today hold reservations for the F-150 Lightning, but what they get delivered would be the 2025 model built on the TE1 platform!
2025 F-150 Lightning Platform & Battery
Where the upcoming electric F-150 uses a modified version of the gasoline F-150’s chassis, Ford has two platforms which it will launch exclusively for electric vehicles. The smaller GE2 coming in mid-2023 will see cars and crossovers (including a second-gen Mustang Mach-E) while the truck size TE1 will accommodate the 2025 Ford F-150 Lightning, and probably even the Ford Ranger EV.
In addition, the Ford Bronco EV (which is almost confirmed by the company as a project having been greenlit) and electric “two- and three-row SUVs for families around the world like (Ford) Explorer (EV) and Lincoln Aviator (EV)” will also be accommodated on this RWD/AWD BEV platform, Hau Thai-Tang, Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford, confirmed in 2021.
And while Ford may source batteries from vendors such as LG Chem and SK Innovation currently, by 2025, the brand will have enough volume in North America to justify its own plant, Thai-Tang mentioned in an interview with CNBC. With its TE1 platform harmonizing systems/components, multiple Ford/Lincoln electric vehicles could use the same battery size, which will ease Ford into manufacturing/assembling its own cells.
“Incredibly high-volume model” to be built in Tennessee
James Farley Jr., President and CEO, Ford, has suggested that the next-gen F-150 Lightning will be a major contributor to its pickup sales. In an interview in December 2021, Automotive News asked Farley Jr. if Ford will need new assembly plants beyond Blue Oval City. In response, he said the Ford had just announced a new plant that will build a vehicle which isn’t available today on its new full-size pickup platform, which would be an “incredibly high volume” model.
Farley Jr. was likely referring to the next-gen F-150 Lightning, which Ford would develop as an EV from the outset. The production will likely take place at a much higher scale compared to the current model, as the EV would have matured in the meantime.
Ford announced Blue Oval City, a 3,600-acre campus consisting of new vehicle assembly, battery production, and a supplier park in Tennessee, on September 27, 2021. The same day, the Tennessee government revealed in its announcement that the company will build the Blue Oval City on the Memphis Regional Megasite and manufacture the next-generation all-electric F-Series trucks there, starting 2025.
Ford Ion Park & IonBoost+ battery
On April 27, 2021, Ford announced Ford Ion Park, a new facility for the R&D of battery and battery cell technology and potentially even manufacturing batteries in the future. This will be in addition to the 200,000 square-foot learning lab for developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays that opens late this year, located in the same place. The next-gen Ford F-150 Lightning should pack batteries developed at the Ford Ion Park.
On July 27, 2021, Ford confirmed that it will construct the Ford Ion Park in Romulus, a city in Michigan’s Wayne County. USD 100 million will go into this project, which will be more than half of the company’s USD 185 million committed investment in developing, testing, and building battery cells and cell arrays. The Blue Oval plans to refurbish an existing 270,000 sq.-ft. facility to accommodate up to 200 engineers and make space for pilot-scale equipment for electrode, cell and array design and production innovation and engineering. It will open its “new collaborative learning lab” this year.
Ford will develop ‘IonBoost’ lithium-ion batteries consisting of unique pouch cells with special chemistry, Farley Jr. said at the 2021 Capital Markets Day event on May 26, 2021. These batteries will have Ford’s own battery control algorithm, and suitable for larger vehicles, including trucks and SUVs. ‘IonBoost+’ will be the name of Ford’s next-gen battery technology, Thai-Tang said at the same event later. The company believes that IonBoost+ delivers the highest energy density of any cell of its type, he added. IonBoost has an NMC chemistry for the cathode, with Nickel account for 88% of the content. IonBoost and IonBoost+ are one and the same thing, but the latter is the official name.
This cell chemistry (IonBoost+), coupled with Ford’s proprietary battery control algorithm featuring high accuracy sensing technology, delivers higher efficiency and range for customers. Our pouch cell format is unique and ideal for powering larger vehicles and performance products.Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform and operations officer, Ford (2021 Capital Markets Day on May 26, 2021)
For its commercial vehicles, Ford will develop IonBoost Pro batteries consisting of lithium iron phosphate cells.
Solid-state batteries coming this decade
Ford is also investing in solid-state battery technology, expecting production-feasible solid-state batteries to be ready later this decade. On May 3, 2021, Ford announced an additional investment in Solid Power to speed up solid-state battery technology development by contributing to a USD 130 million Series B investment. With this investment round, the Blue Oval is an equal equity owner with BMW Group, and representatives from both companies are to join Solid Power’s board.
Ted Miller, Ford’s electrification subsystems and power supply research manager, has said that the company can increase range, improve interior space and cargo volume, and, eventually, lower the costs to provide a better value to customers. Under the new agreement, the company will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells from Solid Power for testing and integration into future electric vehicles beginning this year. In addition, it has a separate agreement to co-develop and test its specific battery cell design also with Solid Power.
Thai-Tang said that it’s possible to build batteries with Solid Power’s sulfide-based solid electrolyte and silicon-based anode chemistry using the same manufacturing process as existing lithium-ion batteries. As a result, the Blue Oval would be able to reuse about 70% of its capital investment in Li-ion manufacturing lines.
Ford’s EV strategy
Ford is bullish on electrification in its North American and European markets and is planning a massive xEV onslaught. The company plans to invest more than USD 30 billion in electrification. It expects 50% of global vehicle sales to be derived from pure electric models by 2030. The Blue Oval will launch multiple EVs from Ford and Lincoln brands this decade, including a Bronco EV, Explorer EV, Ranger EV, an MEB platform-based compact electric SUV, and Aviator EV.
In addition to the development of new electrified products and powertrains, a part of the USD 30 billion investment will go into domestic battery production. In partnership with SK Innovation, the company plans to build BlueOvalSK Battery Park, a battery manufacturing complex consisting of two battery plants, in central Kentucky. It will build the Blue Oval City in Tennessee also with the South Korean battery specialist. This facility will supply batteries for the company’s electrified vehicles.
To accelerate electrification and simplify its business, Ford has separated operations into three divisions: Ford Model e (passenger EVs), Ford Blue (passenger ICEVs, and Ford Pro (CVs). As it splits up its business, the company expects major changes from its dealers to smoothen the transition to EVs.
In a report on March 4, 2022, Automotive News noted that Ford wants dealers to sell EVs at MSRP. This move would ensure that customers aren’t exploited with hefty markups over the sticker price when they come in to buy an electric vehicle. Dealers would have to meet specific standards to receive EV shipments from Ford from January 2024. These may also have positive impact for the dealers, like not keeping an EV inventory, which would mean needing smaller facilities. EV customers might desire a gas-engined vehicle for a weekend trip, and there could be a new rental model that allows dealers to loan customers vehicles for a short period, in addition to selling and servicing cars.
We will keep updating this story as more details emerge.
2025 Ford F-150 Lightning FAQs
What is the release date of the 2025 Ford F-150 Lightning?
Production of the second-gen F-150 Lightning is expected from late 2025. Deliveries could commence by early 2026.
What is the expected price of the 2025 Ford F-150 Lightning?
The 2025 F-150 Lightning should be priced like the first-generation model, which starts at USD 40,000.
Featured Image – 2022 Ford Ranger’s headlight courtesy of Ford