DETROIT (AP) — Ford is resuming production of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup after closing a factory in Dearborn, Michigan, for six weeks to triple production capacity.
The move comes just two weeks after the company cut prices on all versions of the trucks, some by as much as $10,000, fueling speculation that demand had fallen.
But company officials said Tuesday that they're getting six times the orders now than before the price cuts, and Ford has an order bank big enough to take up 45 days of production at the reworked Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. The company wouldn't give an exact number of orders.
Lightning sales in the second quarter of the year were more than double the same period in 2022, but there were up only 4% from the first quarter.
Ford says that's because they stopped production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle center in June to add equipment and expand the plant so it can make more vehicles. The plant, which now employs about 2,000 workers, will be able to produce electric trucks at a rate of 150,000 per year starting this fall.
Two weeks ago, Ford slashed prices on the electric trucks by thousands of dollars across the board in anticipation of increased factory output, falling costs for battery raw materials and internal efforts to scale production.
The price cuts across the Lightning line, some as deep as $10,000, were seen on on Wall Street as more evidence of a coming price war among electrical vehicle makers.
The cuts also were announced two days after Tesla said its first production Cybertruck electric pickup had rolled off the assembly line, though nearly two years behind the original schedule and with little information about how much they may cost. Large-scale Cybertruck production isn't expected until late this year or early next year.
Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer for Ford's Model e electric vehicle unit, said the company sees strong EV demand at present “but the future is somewhat unpredictable and volatile.”
The company has orders to match the increased factory output, but Gjaja said Ford will watch to see how things play out. “We’re seeing competition increase. We’re seeing inventories out there grow as competition adds supply and availability. And we’re going to have to adjust with the market. Ultimately, the customers are going to decide,” he said.
The updated starting price for the Pro model, Ford's lowest priced electric pickup, will be $49,995, down about $10,000. The price for the high-end Platinum Extended Range version of the Lightning was cut from $98,074, to $91,995, a drop of more than $6,000.
Ford and others face increasing competition from automakers rolling out full-size electric pickup trucks. Rivian's R1T is already on sale, and Chevrolet's Silverado EV is due out soon. Stellantis says it will have a Ram electric pickup in the fourth quarter of next year.
Last week Ford predicted its pretax losses this year on electric vehicles will balloon to $4.5 billion, from $3 billion previously.
Ford shares rose 0.6% to $13.29 in midday trading Tuesday.