MICHINGAN: A new electric version of Ford’s immensely popular F-150 pickup truck might just be the catalyst that hastens America’s transition from gasoline to battery-powered vehicles.
Jim Farley, the company’s new CEO, calls the introduction of an electric version of the nation’s top-selling vehicle a watershed moment for Ford as well as for the auto industry. The new truck, called the F-150 Lightning and due in showrooms by next spring, will be able to travel up to 300 miles (480 km) per battery charge and tow up to 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg).
Yet Ford’s commitment to the EV F-150 is hardly without risk. The company spent millions to develop the truck at a time when sales of electric vehicles remain minuscule — just 2 percent of the US auto market. Many truck owners will be reluctant to switch from gasoline engines. And there is the distinct possibility that at least in the early months and perhaps years of production, automakers could run short of EV batteries and the scarce precious metals needed to make them,” Farley told the Associated Press in an interview.
The basic price of the electric version of the truck is roughly $40,000.
Replying to a question about the price of an electric truck and a gas-powered F-150, Farley said: “It’s going to be pretty close. It depends on the specifications. The vehicle is faster than a Raptor (F-150 high-performance gas version). It’ll power your house for three days or a heck of tailgate. We have the latest interior technology, over-the-air updates.”
The world is fast switching to electric vehicles. Farley believed “a lot of it will depend on government support, the infrastructure (charging stations) build-out, as well as a support for the purchase.
“We have a $7,500 benefit still at Ford. So it depends on what happens with government policy, and whether that tips the scale for a lot of customers. It has in Europe. China is moving fast. We are totally sold out with the Mach E (Electric SUV). On the West Coast, it has already changed quickly. It’ll be a matter of time before that sweeps across the country.”
Answering a question about the impact of the global semiconductor shortage on the auto industry, Ford chief said: “These components are a high percentage of our build-of-material these days, and we can’t really continue to run just-in-time inventory on components like this. It’s a real game changer in how we look at our supply chain. We are seeing some positive indications from chip producers. The big change is the Renesas facility (a chip factory in Japan that was damaged by fire) coming back online. As that facility ramps up to 100 percent, we’ll feel a lot more confident. So we’re not through this. I’m not going to give any predictions about what the second half looks like.”