During a recent earnings call, Ford (F) – Get Ford Motor Company Report president and CEO Jim Farley described the F-150 Lightning pickup as “a truly breakthrough electric truck.”
“The excitement around the truck is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my career,” Farley said, according to a transcript of the call.
‘Our Significant Transformation’
“While we have work ahead to fully scale production and fill an extraordinary order bank, both for our retail Lightning customers and Ford Pro, make no mistake, this is a very important moment for us at Ford,” he said. “We’re accelerating our significant transformation.”
The iconic automaker said on April 26 that it had begun production of the F-150 Lightning, with Farley declaring “America’s real transition to electric vehicles starts now,”
Now the company has another surprise for consumers and competitors alike.
It out turns that the F-150 Lightning is more powerful than the iconic vehicle maker initially revealed.
Ford said both the standard and extended range battery packs in the F-150 Lightning will deliver more horsepower than originally announced when the truck was unveiled in May 2021. The payload capacity has increased as well.
The extended-range battery pack produces 580 horsepower, up from the targeted 563 horsepower.
The standard-range battery pack delivers 452, a boost from the targeted 426 horsepower originally promised.
Both packs are capable of producing 775 lbs.-ft. of torque, more than any other F-150 pickup ever.
‘Raising the Bar’
“We were seriously focused on raising the bar on this truck, including after we revealed it, so we can deliver more for our customers,” Dapo Adewusi, F-150 Lightning vehicle engineering manager, said in a statement.
Ford said it has “unprecedented demand” for F-150 Lightning with 200,000 reservations and it is expanding the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich. to ramp up production to a planned annual run rate of 150,000 in 2023.
The F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in the U.S. for 40 years and the Lightning will be facing competition from other EV makers.
General Motors (GM) – Get General Motors Company Report recently said that it has about 140,000 reservations for the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV, with production expected to start early next year.
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GM is also producing the electric version of the GMC Hummer pickup.
Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report has promised Cybertruck, a vehicle that looks like drove straight out of a science fiction movie. The company, which has been leading the way in the electric vehicle market, first announced its Cybertruck in 2019, but production was postponed several times.
Last month CEO Elon Musk announced that the futuristic-looking vehicle will go into production next year at the company’s latest factory in Austin, Texas.
Rivian (RIVN) – Get Rivian Automotive, Inc. Class A Report is producing the R1T, but the company has been struggling and warned that “initial deliveries for the R1T and R1S were delayed, and our production ramp is taking longer than originally expected due to a number of reasons.”
This is an issue for Ford, which posted an unadjusted first-quarter net loss of $3.1 billion, including a loss of $5.4 billion on the company’s 12% stake in Rivian.
‘Tug of War’
Benchmark analyst Michael Ward cut his price target on Ford to $25 from $29, while keeping a buy rating, noting that the earnings were “distorted” by the Rivian loss.
He said that he sees “a tug of war in the market” between economic concerns and upside opportunity, with the auto sector at the center of the debate.
Though Ward thinks eventually positive demand trends, structural industry changes, and improved financials will “win the battle,” he has reduced his 2022 estimate to reflect lower than expected Q1 earnings and ongoing supply constraints.
There has been some good news for Rivian in the form of a $1.5 billion incentive from the state of Georgia and local governments to build a $5 billion electric vehicle plant east of Atlanta.
And Piper Sandler analyst Alexander Potter reiterated his overweight rating on Rivian with a $112 price target after a client webinar last week with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.
A report from the council concluded that commercial vans are a “perfect fit for electric drivetrains, with fleets of all kinds embracing the technology,” Potter said in a research note.
The analyst said Rivian is a “high-profile” supplier in this segment, given its alignment with Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report, which also took a sizeable hit on its Rivian investment. He believes that to succeed, Rivian must sell software and service, not just vans, to big fleets.
Ford, however, is playing it close to the vest on Rivian as the 180-day lock-up period nears expiration.
“Yeah,” Farley said during the analysts call. “Unfortunately at this point, we’re not going to comment on Rivian.”