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F-150 Lightning self-immolation behind production halt as Ford identifies the battery fire cause

The F-150 Lightning workhorse (image: Ford)
The F-150 Lightning workhorse (image: Ford)
An F-150 Lightning that caught on fire while sitting in a quality control holding lot was the reason Ford suspended the electric pickup truck's production earlier. A Ford spokesperson confirmed the fire incident and said the company's engineers have identified the problem and are working to augment the battery production process.

Ford stopped production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup earlier this week due to unidentified battery issue, but now a company spokesperson has confirmed that the reason was combustion in an already manufactured but not yet delivered vehicle. According to local media, an F-150 Lightning truck caught on fire while sitting in a lot dedicated to production vehicles that are to pass quality control checks before being shipped out to dealers.

According to spokesperson Emma Bergg confirming the incident, it may be a few weeks before production restarts:

I can confirm one vehicle fire. Let me reiterate, we have no reason to believe F-150 Lightnings already in customer hands are affected by this issue. We are suspending production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center through at least the end of next week. We believe we have identified the root cause of this issue. By the end of next week, we expect to conclude our investigation and apply what we learn to the truck’s battery production process; this could take a few weeks. We will continue holding already-produced vehicles while we work through engineering and process updates.

Ford currently uses performance high-nickel batteries for its F-150 electric truck, but will be moving to the cheaper and safer LFP chemistry, first for the Mach-E, with a new US$3.5 billion factory in Michigan.

Ford's CEO has started restructuring the company to cut costs and streamline processes so it can close the up to US$8 billion production efficiency gap with other profitable automakers. It recently identified a mile of unneeded cabling in the Mustang Mach-E, for instance, unlike Tesla's assembly that has the cables measured down to an inch.

Ford's electrification push has been a success story so far, with the F-150 Lightning one of the most popular electric vehicles sold in the US last year. Still, Ford's dedicated Model E electric car division is not yet profitable due to high battery costs, production inefficiencies, and snags like the F-150 Lightning fire this week.

"The industry needs to start focusing on making money on EVs," said Ford's CEO. The company expects to get a decent 8% operating profit margin from its electric cars in 2026, though, and in the meantime it is funding the EV business from its legacy car sales like so many automakers are doing in this transitional period.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 02 > F-150 Lightning self-immolation behind production halt as Ford identifies the battery fire cause
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-02-16 (Update: 2023-02-16)