A Ford F-150 Lightning pre-production model. One year after Ford confirmed construction of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich., the first Ford F-150 Lightning pre-production units have begun leaving the factory. (Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company)

As demand rises, the automaker is boosting investment and adding jobs in Michigan

 DEARBORN, Mich.— One year after Ford Motor Company confirmed construction of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, the first Ford F-150 Lightning pre-production units have begun leaving the factory. Ford has taken more than 150,000 reservations for the trucks to date, and as demand for the all-electric truck soars, the automaker said that it will increase investment and add jobs to boost production.

Ford is investing an additional $250 million and adding 450 more direct jobs across three southeast Michigan facilities—the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, and Rawsonville Components Plant. The investment and added jobs are expected to help increase production capacity to 80,000 trucks a year, Ford said in a release.

“We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles. So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production,” said Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Company, in the release. “This truck and the Ford-UAW workers who are assembling it in Michigan have a chance to make history and lead the electric vehicle movement in America.”

The F-150 Lightning, with a starting MSRP of $40,000 and targeted EPA-estimated driving range of 300 miles with the extended range battery, is aimed at the heart of the U.S. auto market.

“Electrifying the F-Series—America’s best-selling truck for 44 years—and assembling it at this high-tech facility in Michigan represents a significant step toward mass adoption of electric vehicles in America,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of The Americas and International Markets Group, in the release. “F-150 Lightning is intended to be more than a no-compromise zero tailpipe-emissions truck. It’s packed with ingenious features and technology that will improve over time, it’s exhilarating to drive, and it can power your home and worksite.”

Ford confirmed construction of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center a year ago as part of an initial $700 million investment in the historic Ford Rouge Center, creating a manufacturing home for the F-150 Lightning. Now Ford’s pre-production F-150 Lightning trucks are leaving the factory for real-world testing, with the truck available to customers next spring.

Ford’s $250 million additional investment will create 450 additional hourly direct jobs, with most of those workers assembling the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Workers at the Rawsonville Components Plant will assemble the batteries, and the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center will increase its capacity to supply electric motors and electric transaxles for the F-150 Lightning, according to the release.

Ford said it has invested $7.7 billion in the state and created and retained 7,000 Michigan jobs since 2016. This includes bringing the new Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup production to Michigan, refurbishing Michigan Central Station, developing a new Ford Research and Engineering Campus in Dearborn, and creating Ford’s Ion Park in Romulus. These sites represent a growing network across southeast Michigan that will support the next generation of Ford’s battery electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles, the company said in the release.

“Investments like this can pave the way to a future that protects our families, our communities and our middle class. Ford is doing this the right way with the F-150 Lightning, creating 450 additional UAW-represented jobs,” said Laura Dickerson, UAW Region 1A director, in the release. “Ford is investing in this all-electric F-150 Lightning, as well as hybrid and gas F-150 versions, as consumer demands shift. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is in the Ford Rouge Center, said to set “a benchmark for sustainable automotive assembly.” The new center supports Ford’s vision of sustainable production as a zero waste-to-landfill site. It uses natural lighting and LED lighting, and the primary forklift fleet will use hydrogen fuel cells with a zero-emission profile. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is built on the site of the old Dearborn Assembly Plant, using its recycled foundation and construction materials, the company said in the release.

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