As Ford Moves Forward With Electric F-150 Preparations, Online Chatter Leaves It in the Dust
The hottest vehicle segment that doesn’t yet exist — full-size electric pickups — continues to arouse interest online, though the nature of that buzz can’t be directly translated into future sales.
Lofty promises of future product may send investors and tech geeks into mouth-frothing displays of overreaction, but established automakers, regardless of what Silicon Valley disciples claim, stand a better chance of having their wares on the market before the upstarts. Ford’s upcoming F-150 EV is one of those products. Scheduled to arrive in the middle of 2022, the automaker is preparing a plant overhaul designed to slot the new variant into its next-generation truck’s assembly operation.
As reported by Bloomberg, Ford plans to idle its Dearborn, Michigan truck plant on September 7th to retool ahead of 2021 F-150 production, with the same work occurring at Kansas City Assembly come October. In addition to this work, the automaker plans to begin construction on an adjacent facility in Dearborn to handle the F-150 EV. The first prototypes should begin rolling out of that plant in 2021.
Pressure is high for Ford to bring the next-gen F-150 to market with none of the hiccups that plagued the botched roll-out of the 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator — a manufacturing, quality, and PR blunder that cost Ford’s former head of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, his job.
The downtime at both plants will also cost Ford vital F-150 output, so the push is on to pad pandemic-depleted inventories ahead of the work.
“We have good inventory of the current model F-150 and we’re building at a higher-than-normal rate to ensure our stocks remain high to continue to meet customer demand,” the automaker told Bloomberg.
But what about that online chatter mentioned earlier? Seems someone’s been doing some snooping. The Detroit Free Press, citing geocached July Twitter mentions, revealed just where the public’s buzz lies. The associated map shows which EV pickup people in each U.S. state talked about most last month, with General Motors and Ford failing to appear as any state’s number one. Go figure.
The five pickups that were mentioned include the Rivian R1T, Tesla Cybertruck, Bollinger B2, Nikola Badger, and Lordstown Endurance. None of these trucks are in series production yet; one (Bollinger) is a luxury model that reeks of bespoke construction, another doesn’t yet have a factory (Tesla), one has a factory but first needs cash to get off the ground (Lordstown), and yet another is a distant future promise dependent on the help of a unnamed, and likely undiscovered, established automaker for assembly (Nikola).
Ford, GM, and Rivian have plants and cash. Online interest is fickle, as the map shows. The home of GM and Ford, Michigan, shows the Rivian pickup as No. 1. At least the company has its headquarters there, with a plant in Illinois (which also ranked the company tops in Twitter traffic). Indeed, with the exception of a patriotic Ohio, Lordstown’s home base, and Pennsylvania, all states bordering the Great Lakes gravitated to Rivian.
Texas, where Tesla’s Cybertruck will be built, was more interested in Nikola. California, at least, saw the most interest go to Tesla’s upcoming wedge-with-a-bed. Tesla being headquartered there, and all. A small handful of states seemed to pine most for Bollinger, among them Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland.
The significance of all this? Who knows. Online buzz, as previously stated, doesn’t necessarily translate into sales, and Ford has been quietest of all when it comes to that company’s future EV pickup. No wonder’s there’s radio silence. And so what if people are jawing about a ghost product online? It could make the company a hell of a lot more valuable by juicing its stock, but buzz is of limited value if that future product stands to be preceded by numerous other products of similar form and capability.
[Image: Ford, Tesla]