Why Ford is pitching the F-150 Lightning with fleets, commercial buyers

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. on Monday opened F-150 Lightning order banks for commercial owners, promising lower ownership costs for a key demographic the company hopes will help it establish early dominance in the electric pickup market.

Ford said the base trim of the Lightning, focused on commercial buyers, will be called Pro.

It said last week the base model with a standard-range battery, targeted at a 230-mile range and also available to retail buyers, would start at $39,974 before shipping. On Monday, Ford revealed the Pro for fleets with an extended-range battery, estimated at 300 miles, will start at $49,974.

The Lightning Pro with a standard-range battery is targeted to get 426 hp and 775 pound-feet of torque, roughly 137 hp less than its max capability. It will have an estimated 2,000-pound payload capacity and 5,000-pound towing capacity, which can be upped to 7,700 pounds with an optional trailer tow package.

For an additional $10,000, the Pro with an extended-range battery is targeted to get 563 hp and 775 pound-feet of torque. It will also come with the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro. Ford says the extended-range Pro will have up to a 10,000-pound towing capacity with an optional trailer tow package.

Ford said its commercial buyers will have access to a new digital fleet planning tool that helps them calculate purchase and lease costs, including available tax incentives and regional fuel and energy costs. It says the Lightning Pro will reduce scheduled maintenance costs by 40 percent over eight years and 100,000 miles.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, at the vehicle’s unveiling last week, called the Lightning “a test” of consumers’ appetite for EVs and said he’d be watching commercial buyers closest.

“There has not been any electric alternatives for commercial consumers,” he said. “We’re almost half the market [of gas-powered vehicles]. This commercial industry is really important for us.”

Farley has made maintaining and growing Ford’s commercial business a priority since he became CEO last October. Executives argue that the commercial space could be less disrupted by the slew of startups planning their own electric trucks because most businesses aren’t likely to gamble with a new vehicle provider.

“It will be especially difficult [for startups],” Darren Palmer, Ford’s general manager of battery-electric vehicles, told Automotive News. “The last thing fleet managers want is risk.”

Wall Street analysts agree.

Rod Lache, an analyst with Wolfe Research, said last week that Lordstown Motors, which is planning a $52,000 pickup with a 250-mile range called the Endurance, is the “biggest loser” following the Lightning’s reveal.

Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, in a separate note said “we believe the F-150 Lightning presents a major competitive threat to Lordstown.” The section of that research note was called “Why would you buy a Lordstown Endurance?”

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