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Commentary & Voices

Cox Automotive Commentary: Ford F-150 Lightning Reveal


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In the past decade, Ford Motor Company has sold more than 7.38 million full-size F-Series pickup trucks, making it far and away the most dominant vehicle in America, as far as sales tallies go. The No. 2 vehicle in the same timeframe was the Chevy Silverado. Total sales: 5.34 million. It might be fair to say, compared to the F-Series, that everyone else is playing in the minor leagues.

It’s no surprise then that the all-new F-150 Lightning is stirring up heavy attention in the market right now. It will be shown for the first time on Wednesday, May 19, but won’t be on sale until early in 2022. It will be a moment for the industry and EV lovers alike.

Sales of electrified vehicles grew notably in Q1, and the analysts at Cox Automotive have said we are entering the EV Decade. Certainly, the launch of an all-electric F-Series is an indication that we are indeed. Ford isn’t even the only automaker launching an all-new EV this week. Kia will reveal a new product, and lay out a new electric-vehicle strategy, as well.

The attention will be on Ford, though, and there’s reason to believe the automaker might have a leg up in the fight. Recent snapshot research by Kelley Blue Book points to the fact that traditional pickups, from a traditional automaker—a safe play to be sure—are what some consumers want.

Below, you’ll find commentary from our leading analysts about the new Ford F-150 Lightning. If you would like to speak with one of the expert analysts from Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book or any member of the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team, please contact us.

Matt Degen, editor, Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader
I see this as another watershed moment for both the Ford F-150 and, more broadly, electric vehicles. It doesn’t get any more mainstream than the F-150, which has been America’s best-selling vehicle for decades. Several years ago, Ford changed the game by doing the once unthinkable and using aluminum to build its most profitable and most popular vehicle. Now the company has the opportunity to lead the way in creating what could potentially be the first legitimate electrified truck for the masses. Numerous questions are certain – range, price, capability, etc. – but Ford looks to be getting ahead of the curve and offering truck buyers yet another variation of this immensely popular vehicle.

Allyson Harwood, features editor, Kelley Blue Book
The Ford F-150 has long been known as a performance truck. If the new Lightning stays true to that legacy while providing a long range on a single charge, this truck could create a new level of mainstream interest in electric trucks.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, Cox Automotive
While the F-150 Lightning will make headlines and generate consumer interest, it is important to remember that Ford is a leader in the commercial and government fleet businesses. There are mandates coming down that government fleets must be electric, and more companies are looking to go green. The F-150 Lightning may look like a consumer play, but the fleet side of this story is likely even more important.

Lea Malloy, head of research and development, Cox Automotive Mobility
Electrifying the F-150 pickup underscores Ford’s bold commitment to make the EV ubiquitous, relevant and compelling for passenger and fleet customers. Further, and perhaps more importantly, Ford’s $29 billion EV investment pledge is in full swing with recent launches of the $700 million Rouge Electric Vehicle Center and the $185 million investment in Ion Park, the company’s new collaborative learning lab and battery research center.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist, Cox Automotive
EV pickup trucks – a new genre for EVs – will be a challenge for the breed, as pickups by nature are often work trucks, ones used for towing, hauling and heavy work. Pickups are often the vehicles that take their owners far off the grid. The F-150 Lightning, and its competitors, will likely have different usage patterns and roles. In that way, although volumes will likely be small, EV pickups may be incremental to the pickup truck segment. The true test for consumer adoption will be how well the Lightning strikes in the heartland instead of the dense urban markets where EVs have been more common.

Mark Schirmer, public relations director, Cox Automotive (former Ford employee)
The F-150 is the Blue Oval’s most successful product line, and the company would never go into the fight unprepared. We expect the F-150 Lightning to be conservative – a very traditional pickup by design – but extremely capable, with plenty of interesting features, excellent quality and a very competitive price. Ford would never take a chance with its crown jewel: With the F-Series, failure is not an option.

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