Ford wires its electric trucks for business customers

a truck that is driving down the road: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden visits Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn © Reuters/LEAH MILLIS FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden visits Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn

By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's newly revealed electric version of its best-selling F-150 pickup doubles down on a bet that the company can beat Tesla Inc and other rivals by giving new technology a familiar face and convincing long-time fleet and business customers that going electric saves money.

a man standing next to a car: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden visits Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn © Reuters/LEAH MILLIS FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden visits Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn

Ford officially unveiled the battery electric F-150 Lightning model on Wednesday evening, after giving it 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 beginning next year.

Based on customer response, Ford has already moved to increase planned manufacturing capacity https://www.reuters.com/article/autos-ford-electric-idUKL1N2HV3DW for the electric F-150 by "tens of thousands" of vehicles a year, Ford's head of Americas and International Markets, Kumar Galhotra, told Reuters ahead of Wednesday's official debut. He did not disclose the new production targets.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Unveiling of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck, in Dearborn © Reuters/REBECCA COOK Unveiling of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck, in Dearborn

Ford expects to boost annual production of the electric F-150 to 40,000 vehicles or more, starting in 2023, according to Sam Fiorani, head of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions.

Ford executives said ahead of Wednesday's debut they have a different strategy for selling electric trucks and vans in volume from Tesla or General Motors Co..

Where Tesla and GM are positioning their initial electric pickups as lifestyle vehicles for the affluent, Ford executives said they are focused on convincing commercial fleet operators - a market Ford dominates - that the F-150 Lightning and electric Transit are cost-effective, rational choices.

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

COMPETITION


Gallery: Electric vehicles proliferate: Automakers like Tesla, GM, Mercedes bet big on EVs (USA TODAY)

Ford wires its electric trucks for business customers