Ford has announced that Lightning production will restart on March 13, after being paused for about a month while a battery issue was investigated. Currently, F-150 Lightnings are under a stop-shipment order, though not a stop-sale, until production restarts.
Ford originally stopped production in early February after one vehicle displayed a battery issue during pre-delivery quality inspections. The company then paused shipments nationwide while they investigated the issue.
About a week later, Ford discovered what it thought to be the root of the issue, but stated that production would remain paused for “a few weeks” until they could finalize and apply the fix.
Now, Ford seems satisfied with their fix, and is ready to restart production on March 13. Here’s the statement it sent out today:
We will restart production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center (REVC) on March 13, allowing time for SK On’s battery cells to be built into battery arrays and packs and be delivered to the Lightning production line. 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.
The stop shipment order applies to all of Ford’s carriers, who were told last month to stop shipping Lightning trucks until further notice. It remains in place for the time being, so order-holders will have to wait a few more weeks for their trucks to be shipped.
This stop-shipment applies to cars already-produced and in transit but not on dealer lots. But for current Lightning shoppers, that’s not likely to make much difference.
F-150 Lightnings are scarce at dealers currently, despite price increases, as Ford continues to fulfill its massive order list. Many customers are waiting for vehicles to be delivered, rather than being able to walk in and grab one off the dealer lot. Most Lightnings which make their way to dealers are already reserved and will only be released to the public if the order holder decides not to go through with the purchase for some reason.
It sounds like Ford suspects this to have been an issue with cells provided by SK On, the supplier for the F-150 Lightning. While Ford did not originally specify what the issue was, later reporting has converged on the issue being a fire that occurred in a factory holding lot on February 4. Battery supplier SK On later said “we believe this was a rare occurrence, not a fundamental issue with the technology of the battery cells or our overall manufacturing systems.”
SK On is a spinoff of Korean firm SK Innovation. We are not aware of any other major battery issues from SK-supplied batteries, and they have not been subject to any recalls before. We are also not aware of significant Lightning issues in the field, except for one owner whose Lightning suffered a partial battery module failure while charging at an Electrify America charger – though that seemed to be the charger’s fault, not the car’s.