DETROIT – Ford Motor is increasing production of its Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup, while cutting output of its all-electric F-150 Lightning, the automaker said Friday.
Ford said the production changes are intended to match output with customer demand. They mark the latest cuts or delays to production of EVs amid slower-than-expected customer demand.
“We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability. Customers love the F-150 Lightning, America’s best-selling EV pickup,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a release. “We see a bright future for electric vehicles for specific consumers, especially with our upcoming digitally advanced EVs and access to Tesla’s charging network beginning this quarter.”
The announced cut to F-150 Lightning production comes a month after CNBC and other media outlets reported Ford would slash planned output of the pickup roughly in half this year, marking a major reversal after the automaker significantly increased plant capacity for the electric vehicle in 2023.
The automaker will be reducing output of the Lightning at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan to one production shift from two, impacting approximately 1,400 employees. The reduction takes effect April 1.
Ford declined to specify how the eliminated production shift will impact output of the vehicles.
Ford said roughly half of the affected employees will transfer to the Michigan Assembly Plant that produces the Bronco and Ranger. Others will transfer to nearby plants or are expected to participate in a “Special Retirement Incentive Program” agreed to in the 2023 Ford-United Auto Workers contract, the company said.
The Michigan Assembly Plant will add a third shift this summer to increase production of the Bronco and Ranger, according to Ford. The company plans to add 900 jobs at that plant.
Bronco SUVs in production at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant, June 14, 2021.
Michael Wayland | CNBC
Sales of the F-150 Lightning were up 55% last year to more than 24,000 pickups. However, vehicles have not been selling as quickly as they were previously. Ford said it expects “further growth” in sales for the vehicle in 2024, but reportedly not as much as the 150,000 production rate it accounted for when it up-fitted the plant last year.
Sales of the Bronco and Ranger were both down 9.7% and 43.3% last year, respectively. The plant that produces the vehicles was heavily impacted by a six-week UAW labor strike.
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