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Ford heir says its new 'lightning' F-150 EV MUST be a success

Ford heir says its new ‘lightning’ F-150 EV MUST be a success or it could kill the company amid fears over competition from the Tesla truck, global computer chip shortages and rocketing price of lithium and nickel needed for batteries

  • William Ford Junior admitted the F-150 is the equivalent of ‘betting the company’ 
  • But the executive chair believes if it takes off it will be an ‘enormous opportunity’
  • Ford is battling a flooded market for electric vehicles, amid Tesla, GM and Rivian
  • It is also launching the F-150 amid a global shortage of the vital computer chips
  • Meanwhile vital parts for the new truck’s batteries are surging in prices in the US

Ford’s new electric pick up truck needs to be a success or the company is at risk, the firm’s heir has warned.

William Ford Junior admitted the $40,000 F-150 ‘lightning’ is the equivalent of ‘betting the company’ and if it flops it could ‘tarnish the entire franchise’.

But the motor company’s executive chair – and founder Henry’s great-grandson – believes if it takes off it will be an ‘enormous opportunity’.

Ford is battling a flooded market for electric vehicles as it struggles to keep up with stiff competition from Tesla, GM and Rivian.

It is also launching the F-150 amid a global shortage of computer chips that could halt the rollout halted before it even begins.

Meanwhile vital parts for the new truck’s batteries – including lithium and nickel – are surging in prices across the country.

But Ford remained positive the revamped design will prove popular with customers – boasting how it can race from 0-60mph in four seconds.

William Ford Junior admitted the $40,000 F-150 ‘lightning’ (pictured) is the equivalent of ‘betting the company’ and if it flops it could ‘tarnish the entire franchise’

A manufacturing complex U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co and its South Korean battery partner SK Innovation plan to build in Tennessee, opening in 2025, is seen in an artist’s rendition

Biden signed executive order pushing for half of all vehicles to be EV by 2030

Joe Biden last summer signed an executive order outlining a goal to have electric and other zero-emissions vehicles make up half of the new cars and trucks sold by 2030.

The order replaced the more relaxed emission standards under former President Donald Trump.

In a show of unity, Biden was joined at the signing by Ford, GM, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) executives and leaders from the United Auto Workers. 

The 50 per cent goal is nonbinding and mostly symbolic, but it sets the expectation for US automakers to begin the transition from building gas-powered vehicles to electric ones.

It includes battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles.

Biden also called for the first-ever national network of electric vehicle charging stations. 

Mr Ford, whose family is worth $2billion, told the New York Times: ‘If this launch doesn’t go well, we can tarnish the entire franchise.’

The heir, who did a raft of jobs at the firm before taking on his top role, continued: ‘If the Lightning launch goes well, we have an enormous opportunity.’

Chief Executive Jim Farley added: ‘I can’t wait. I can’t wait till customers get this truck.’

Ford’s electric F-150 ‘lightning’ could be the most important vehicle in the firm’s 113-year history.

It has started well, with around 200,000 people already reserving the trucks and undercuts its competitors by costing just $40,000.

Its competitors – GM, Toyota, Tesla and Stellantis – also are yet to bring out their own similar models.

But Ford faces a tough road ahead before coming on the market, with a global chip shortage potentially stalling its launch.

This proved a problem last year, when the car maker said the lack of semiconductors was expected to slash its first quarter earnings by as much as 20 percent.

It cut production of the F-150 truck – America’s most popular vehicle and the firm’s biggest profit spinner – over the chip shortage which has hamstrung manufacturers.

Remote working caused a huge demand for computers and other technology which has overwhelmed chip makers mostly based in Taiwan.

Honda and Volkswagen also raised concerns about their supply lines, while Apple said its iPhone 12s had to be limited by the availability of semiconductors.

General Motors also had to announce downtime at three of its factories – one in the US, one in Canada and one in Mexico – due to the chip shortage.

Meanwhile there are also concerns over the skyrocketing price of nickel and lithium needed to produce the huge batteries for the vehicle.

And the potential for software problems in the F-150’s coding system when it is already rolled out could further impact profits.

Last month Ford announced it would modernize and convert the company into two sections – Ford Blue for petrol or diesel cars and Model E for electric ones.

It proved popular as stocks soared to $25, before slumping back down to $15 amid Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.

But the market appears to think Tesla is the future, with the likes of Ford and GM expected to become less relevant.

And workers are concerned the changes will lead to job losses as making electric vehicles requires less manpower than gas-powered ones.

Ford turned over $136billion last year, up from $127billion in 2020, marking the second year in a row it had beaten GM.

Ford has announced it will bring electric vehicles with two new technologically advanced campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky. Pictured, an all-electric F-150 Lightning on display at the Motor Bella auto show in Pontiac, Michigan

Ford revealed last year it would produce three major electric-vehicle battery factories and an auto assembly plant by 2025.

It marked an $11.4billion investment in the future of EV that will create an estimated 10,800 jobs and shift the firm’s future towards the South.

The factories, to be built on sites in Kentucky and Tennessee, will make batteries for the next generation of Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles.

They mark the single largest manufacturing investment the company has ever made and are among the largest factory outlays in the world.

The new factories will provide a vast new supply of jobs that will likely pay solid wages.

Most of the new jobs will be full time, with a relatively small percentage having temporary status to fill in for vacations and absent workers.

Ford said it will spend $5.6billion in rural Stanton, Tennessee, where it will build a factory to produce electric F-Series pickups.

A joint venture called BlueOvalSK will construct a battery factory on the same site near Memphis, plus twin battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, near Louisville.

Ford estimated the Kentucky investment at $5.8billion and that the company’s share of the total would be $7billion.

The company is making a significant bet on a future that envisions most drivers eventually making the shift to battery power from internal combustion engines.

Should that transition run into disruptions or delays, the gamble could hit the company’s bottom line.

Ford predicts 40 per cent to 50 per cent of its US sales will be electric by 2030. For now, only about 1 per cent of vehicles on America’s roads are powered by electricity.

A battery manufacturing complex U.S automaker Ford Motor Co and its South Korean battery partner SK Innovation plan to build in Kentucky, opening in 2025. The campus will include a plant to build the next generation of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck as well as a battery plant

A report from the International Council on Clean Transportation last year found EVs release fewer greenhouse gases over their lifetime.

Peter Mock, managing director for Europe, said: ‘Even for India and China, which are still heavily reliant on coal power, the life-cycle benefits of BEVs are present today.’

The study looked at greenhouse gases (GHG) in Europe, the US, China, and India, which are responsible for about 70 percent of all new car sales combined.

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