With over 150,000 reservations on hand for the new electric F-150 Lightning pickup trucks, the first pre-production units are now rolling off the line.
Everything about how the Lighting is put together is substantially different from the ICE powered F-150s. It has its own unique frame with a massive battery pack in the center. It has completely different suspension, and a unique powertrain layout with electric motor transaxles both front and rear.
It has its own distinct body work, interior treatments, wiring harnesses and it’s missing many of the components an ICE F-150 might have coming at it on the assembly line. All of this means that while modern plants are very flexible, the Lighting really just gets put together in an entirely different way.
Thus, the F-150 Lightning is assembled on its own “boutique” assembly line in the brand-new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center located on the Dearborn Rouge campus adjacent to the Dearborn Truck Plant. Like its neighbor the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is a sustainable factory and targets a zero waste-to-landfill model.
Body panels and the assembly of major structures such as the doors, cab, and bed take place at the existing F-150 stamping, body and paint shop on site at the Rouge Complex. Finished bodies are then brought over to the Lighting production line for assembly.
Electric motors and transaxles are built by Ford in-house at their Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center in just north of Detroit in Sterling Heights, MI. There, an all-new e-motors are built from scratch and assembled into the front and rear transaxles that power the Lightning. Also produced here are electrified transaxles for other vehicles like the Ford Escape and Maverick Hybrids.
The large lithium-ion battery packs are also built by Ford and come from their Rawsonville Components Plant just west of Detroit near the old Willow Run Plant where Ford built bombers for WWII.
Much of the production line uses an autonomous skillet system to convey the trucks along a path to various teams as opposed to the more familiar steel track lines we’ve all seen before. This allows for more flexibility needed for the variety of electric vehicles to come in the future.
In such, the process of building the F-150 Lightning is a more hands-on affair that the more automated line seen next-door at the Dearborn Truck Plant. Here, more is done by hand and at a more craft-like pace when it comes to interior trim, components and finish out.
These pre-production trucks being built now will never be sold to the public, but used for a variety of purposes including public relations, media test driving, creating marketing materials, sales training, and yes final prove-out testing in addition to quality control for assembly practices before official production gets underway next year.
The all-electric F-150 Lightning goes on sale next spring starting at $40,000 with a range of up to 300 miles with the optional extended range battery. Featuring standard four-wheel drive, it wills offer up to 563 horsepower and an astounding 775 pound-feet of torque.