Cars and Drivers

Ford Lightning Sales Languish

Ford F-150 Lightning electric vehicle
jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

What company needs this kind of headline? A CNBC reporter wrote, “GM overtakes Ford as second-best seller of EVs in U.S. but still trails Tesla by a wide margin.” Ford management has expected for a long time that it would be the American electric vehicle leader. The primary reason for the current problem is the slow sales of the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s electric flagship. Ford sold only 4,291 in the first quarter of the year. (These are the biggest electric vehicle business failures in American history.)
Lightning should have a big advantage as it comes to market. There are millions of gasoline-powered F-150s on the road. That is a huge and unprecedented pool of possible buyers.

Ford’s launch stumbled out of the gate. It has raised Lightning’s price four times. It would be hard to find a better way to anger customers. The base model’s sticker has gone from about $40,000 to $60,000. That puts it out of reach for many potential customers.

Battery fires, recalls and assembly lines shuttered because battery defects signaled the Lightning would be another quality management problem. Ford already has admitted the quality of its vehicles is well behind that of its major rivals.

Ford’s PR team, which often tries to distract investors, wrote, “Production of F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E continues to scale to targeted annual run rates of 150,000 units and 210,000 units, respectively, by year’s end.” That does not matter if Ford cannot sell them. Add to that a ridiculous comparison: “Ford’s EV sales grew 41.0 percent in the first quarter on sales of 10,866 electric vehicles.” The improvement was against extremely low numbers.

The Lightning has a long way to go to be a sales success. In the near term, it will have competition from Tesla, Chevy and Ram. Also, electric pickup sales are unlikely to catch gas-powered sales for several years.

It is best that Ford refrain from highlighting Lightning sales, at least for now.

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