F-150 Lightning production shutdown to last 5 weeks, Ford says

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it plans to restart production of the all-electric F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn on March 13 — ending what will be a five-week disruption.

Ford stopped factory operations on the Lightning immediately following a Feb. 4 battery fire in a holding lot in Dearborn that stored vehicles awaiting quality review prior to shipment to dealers. The fire burned one pickup truck and spread to two others, the automaker said.

Battery production for the Lightning begins in Atlanta, with Ford battery supplier SK On; the battery is assembled at the Rawsonville Ford Plant in Ypsilanti. At issue is the battery itself, not assembly. Ford has been working with SK On to identify the battery issue and remedy the situation.

Ford declined Thursday to specify the root cause of the issue.

More:They're the 1st owners of Ford F-150 Lightnings: What they're going to do with them

More:Ford supply chain exec departs, F-150 Lightning plant still closed

Emma Bergg, director of electric vehicle and BlueOval City Communications, told the Free Press on Thursday that the restart date allows time for SK On to build the battery packs needed and deliver them to the Lightning production line.

"In the weeks ahead, we will continue to apply our learnings and work with SK On’s team to ensure we continue delivering high-quality battery packs — down to the battery cells," Bergg said.

As the plant ramps up production of the Lightning, Bergg said, "we will continue holding already produced vehicles while we work through engineering and parts updates."

More:Ford F-150 Lightning buyer shocked by dealer tactic

She did not provide detail Thursday about how many trucks were being held or specifically why. Bergg said Ford would provide an update on timing related to shipping trucks to dealers later.

About 750 people work at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Plant, including about 700 hourly employees, Ford said. UAW workers are on layoff during this production stoppage, and those with at least one year of seniority receive about 75% of their pretax pay during that time, she said.

The Lightning, which has a long waiting list, won MotorTrend's 2023 Truck of the Year award and was described by MotorTrend as the best truck Ford has ever made. The Lightning was the bestselling electric truck in the U.S. in 2022.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-618-1034 or Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid