Ford Motor Co. has suspended production and halted shipments of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup after a battery caught fire during a pre-delivery quality check.
Production at Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, has been stopped until at least the end of next week. The automaker said in a statement Wednesday night it has no reason to believe electric pickups already in use by customers are affected by the battery issue.
“By the end of next week, we expect to conclude our investigation and apply what we learn to the truck’s battery production processes,” Ford spokeswoman Emma Berg said in the statement. “This could take a few weeks.” The fire happened at an outdoor lot nearby in Dearborn where vehicles are held for quality checks. The truck with the battery problem and two nearby vehicles were damaged by the fire, Berg said. No injuries were reported.
The company believes it has identified the root cause of the battery problem, including the likely population of trucks affected by it. “We monitor vehicle data to help ensure our vehicles are performing as expected in the field,” Berg said.
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The company will continue to hold completed trucks until engineering and production changes are made. Batteries for the trucks are supplied by SK Innovation, a Korean supplier with a factory in Georgia. The production halt comes at an inopportune time for Ford, which has struggled with quality issues, recalls and high warranty costs for several years.
The problem also stops production of a popular product. Berg said the company is still working through a backlog of nearly 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning since it stopped taking them in December 2021. Reservation holders put down $100 deposits, which Ford was converting to orders.
Last year, Ford sold more than 15,000 of the trucks in its first full year of production.
There have been previous problems with the lithium-ion batteries used in most electric vehicles. Fires in the batteries can burn very hot and take thousands of gallons of water to extinguish, which has caused difficulty for firefighters attempting to put out battery fires in several Teslas after crashes. General Motors, Hyundai, BMW and others have issued recalls of the batteries.