This will not be a successor to the F-150 Lightning but something else entirely.
Ford has confirmed that it will build a next-generation electric truck - currently known only under the 'Project T3' code name - at its new BlueOval City mega campus in West Tennessee. With production set to begin in 2025 as construction of the facility continues, the new BlueOval Learning training program will create almost 6,000 new jobs, and Ford is investing $5.6 billion in the campus along with its partner, SK.
The question on everyone's lips will be: where exactly will this new electric pickup fit in? Although the current F-150 Lightning is still a relatively fresh arrival, reports from late last year indicated that a new-gen F-150 Lightning would arrive in 2025 with a dedicated EV platform. Furthermore, 'T3' is the current name of Ford's large truck platform, and the mid-size electric Ranger Lightning is only due in 2029. Finally, back in 2021, Ford CEO Jim Farley said that a brand-new full-size pickup platform was coming.
All these signs point to Project T3 being the second-gen F-150 Lightning. Still, we're not so sure that is the case, as a Ford representative previously told CarBuzz that the electric truck to be built at BluOval City would be "separate from F-150 Lightning."
The current F-150 Lightning is based on a modified platform shared with the gas-powered F-150, so Project T3 represents quite a departure for the truck. Considering that the first-gen F-150 Lightning only went into production last year, this means that it will have an unusually short life cycle, again suggesting a different electric truck.
Ford is looking at expanding EV production but desperately needs to find a way to make EVs profitable. Ford recently said it will lose around $3 billion on EVs this year, so profitability is still elusive for the brand in this arena. With the new assembly plant, the automaker touts "efficiencies never before possible - such as a 30% smaller general assembly footprint than traditional plants while delivering higher production capacity."
Essentially, Ford already knows how to produce a competitive EV, but it needs to do so more strategically to save costs.
When the plant reaches full production, it will be capable of churning out 500,000 electric trucks annually. The site has been designed to be Ford's first one that will enable carbon-neutral vehicle manufacturing.
"BlueOval City is the blueprint for Ford's electric future around the world," said Bill Ford, Ford's executive chair. "We will build revolutionary electric vehicles at an advanced manufacturing site that works in harmony with the planet, aligning business growth and innovation with environmental progress."
Ford has been careful not to reveal any specifics about the new electric truck, but enough was said to indicate that it will raise the bar. The automaker said the pickup will be "fully updatable, constantly improving, and supports towing, hauling, exportable power and endless new innovations."
"Project T3 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize America's truck," said CEO Jim Farley. "We are melding 100 years of Ford truck know-how with world-class electric vehicle, software, and aerodynamics talent. It will be a platform for endless innovation and capability."
An on-site supplier park is being created with its own upfit center, too. Here, many of the most popular truck features will be added before the truck reaches dealers, such as integrated toolboxes and spray-in bed liners that are robotically installed.
These statements lead us to believe that the second-gen F-150 Lightning or whatever electric pickup truck comes next will have a much longer life cycle, as its dedicated platform will be more flexible than the one that is currently in use. Ford says that Project T3 will deliver a "fraction of the complexity from previous truck programs."
The project name is also known by the key phrase Trust The Truck (T3), which is said to be a rallying cry for the development team to create an electric pickup that owners can trust.
This focus on trust and dependability has likely come about as Ford struggles to fix ongoing quality issues affecting multiple models in recent years. The F-150 Lightning has not been immune to quality maladies, with the 2022 model already having racked up nine recalls and over 150 complaints based on information from the NHTSA.
If it is a second-generation Ford F-150 Lightning, it would arrive shortly after the new Ram 1500 REV. There is also the Chevrolet Silverado EV to worry about, but Ford beat both to the market with its first F-150 Lightning and will aim to capitalize on that headstart as production of the second-gen model gets underway.
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