Ford bets on electric version of its best selling F-150 pickup truck to beat Tesla

Ford Motor Co is betting that its electric version of its best selling F-150 pickup can beat rivals including Tesla since the model provides newer technologies to a familiar model that fleet owners and businesses are already familiar with and in the long run saves them money.

Ford officially launched its battery electric F-150 Lightning model on Wednesday evening, following a cameo appearance during President Joe Biden’s visit on Tuesday to the Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan, where the trucks will be assembled starting from 2022.

Ford is already boosting manufacturing capacity for the electric F-150 by “tens of thousands” of vehicles a year citing customer response, said Ford’s head of Americas and International Markets, Kumar Galhotra, but did not disclose the new production targets.

Aaccording to Sam Fiorani, head of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, Ford is likely to ramp annual production of the electric F-150 to 40,000 vehicles or more from 2023.

Ahead of Wednesday’s debut, Ford executives said the company’s strategy for selling its vehicles differs from that of its rivals such as General Motors Co or Tesla

Whereas GM and Tesla have positioned their initial electric pickups as lifestyle vehicles for the affluent, Ford executives are focusing on convincing commercial fleet operators, a market which it dominates, that the F-150 Lightning and its electric Transit are cost-effective options.

“That’s the only way you can build up the volume,” said Ted Cannis, Ford’s general manager for commercial vehicles.

A “commercial base” version of Ford’s F-150 Lightning will start at $39,974 before tax credits, including a $7,500 federal tax credit that Ford buyers can avail, but Tesla and General Motors buyers cannot.

With a milerange of around 230 miles (370 km), the base version of the F-150 Lightning comes with a 15.5-inch (39.37 cm), Tesla-style dashboard screen, a roomy storage space and sufficient power to juice to power a construction site for up to three days, said officials from Ford.

The Lightning XLT model starts at $52,974.

Incidentally, Tesla’s Cybertruck, is scheduled to enter high volume production in 2022, with base prices starting at $39,900.

While Ford is using a heavier-gauge steel for the F-150 Lightning’s frame, it did not completely redesign the vehicle to integrate the battery pack into the chassis. By staying close to the current model, Ford can offer the electric truck sooner, at a competitive price “and make money on it,” said Darren Palmer, general manager for Ford’s electric vehicles.

Further, the carmaker also plans on offering software-enabled services to fleet and business owners, including the ability to track driver behavior, predict maintenance, and planning delivery routes, said Cannis while adding, once Ford starts charging for these services, “then you’re in the subscription game”.

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