Ford plans to restart production of the electric F-150 Lightning on March 13

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Ford workers produce the electric F-150 Lightning pickup on Dec. 13, 2022 at the automaker’s Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center (REVC).
Michael Wayland | CNBC

DETROIT – Ford Motor plans to restart production of its electric F-150 Lightning pickup on March 13 – more than a month after a battery issue caused one of the vehicles to catch fire.

The automaker on Thursday told CNBC the production timeline will allow its battery supplier, SK On, to build up production and deliver battery packs to the Michigan plant where the truck is produced.

The fire occurred Feb. 4 in a holding lot during a pre-delivery quality check while the vehicle was charging. Ford suspended production of the vehicles and issued a stop-shipment to dealers. Ford declined to disclose details of the issue that caused the vehicle to catch fire or of the implemented solution. The company previously said engineers determined there was no evidence of a charging fault.

“In the weeks ahead, we will continue to apply our learnings and work with SK On’s team to ensure we continue delivering high-quality battery packs – down to the battery cells. As REVC ramps up production, we will continue holding already-produced vehicles while we work through engineering and parts updates,” Ford said in a statement to CNBC.

Ford last week announced SK had started building battery cells again at a plant in Georgia but said the automaker would extend downtime at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where the F-150 Lightning is built, through at least this week.

The F-150 Lightning is being closely watched by investors, as it’s the first mainstream electric pickup truck on the market and a major launch for Ford. The battery issue adds to ongoing “execution issues” detailed to investors last month by Ford CEO Jim Farley that crippled the automaker’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Ford initially opened customer reservations for the F-150 Lightning when it was revealed in May 2021. More than 200,000 reservations were placed prior to Ford temporarily closing the process to attempt to align production with expected demand.

Many reservation owners are still waiting for their vehicles, as Ford said earlier Thursday it’s sold fewer than 20,000 of the all-electric trucks since they went on sale last year.

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